In today’s fast paced society, the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is more important than ever. Building a strong relationship and bond from a young age can be mutually beneficial for both grandparents and grandchildren. Grandparents have a strong influence in their grandchildren’s lives and play an important role in their childhood, helping to shape and mold their perception of family and providing valuable lessons that will follow them into adulthood.
A study performed by Oxford University concluded that having grandparents who are actively involved in their life makes children happier overall. As if that wasn’t reason enough, here are nine more reasons why it is so important for grandparents to be an active participant in their young grandchildren’s life.
They Provide a Companion and Confidant
The bond between grandparents and grandchildren is truly special. In a study performed by the American Psychological Association it was found that many children view their grandparent as a confidant and that having a grandparent available to confide in leads to better behavior and social skills in children.
They Provide Emotional Support For Family Issues
It can be difficult for children to find someone to confide in about issues or worries that they are dealing with. They may not feel comfortable talking to a parent – especially if a parent is the cause of their stress – and they may be worried about judgment from friends. A grandparent provides a grandchild with a safe and trusted adult who is removed from the household that they can turn to in times of personal turmoil or family stress and disruption. The American Psychological Association study notated that children whose parents have divorced or separated especially benefit from having a grandparent available to offer comfort.
They Pass on Family History
Our past family history makes up part of our identity which is why it is important to many people to know and understand where they came from and who their ancestors were. According to an Emory University study, children who know stories about their ancestors show higher levels of emotional well-being and are better adjusted than children who haven’t been told about their past. Grandparents can provide this information to their grandchildren, giving them a stronger sense of self. Having a grandparent who educates them about family traditions makes grandchildren more likely to continue those traditions into adulthood with their own children.
They Provide Children With a Role Model For Aging
Grandparents who live active, healthy lives serve as a role model for their grandchildren to aspire to. The image of the frail grandparent sitting in a rocker is being replaced with a much more active set of grandparents who take their grandchildren out on hikes and long shopping trips. According to the British Psychological Society, part of the learning interactions between grandparents and grandchildren is the grandparent serving as a role model for ageing. Whether grandparents realize it or not, part of being a grandparent is providing guidance to their grandkids on what to expect as they age as well as for how they will eventually care for their own parents during their golden years.
They Help Children to Better Understand Family Relationships
Having grandparents who are regularly involved can help children develop a deeper understanding of how family relationships work. Realizing that their own parents were children once with a mom and dad who took care of them can be an eye opening experience for a child and can give her a greater sense of how family relationships and dynamics grow and change overtime. The bond between her grandparents and parent can also help her understand that conflicts can be worked through and overcome without having a lasting effect on a loving family relationship. According to The Legacy Project, grandparent interactions with the grandchild’s parent serves as a role model for their own intergenerational relationships.
They Provide Someone to Go to For Advice
Children today are faced with many important decisions – where to go to college, which career to pursue, how to save for their first home – and grandparents have the wisdom and experience to provide them guidance with these decisions when they need it. When children are feeling pressure from a parent who wants them to go in a different direction than they want to, a grandparent can provide a buffer to help smooth things over. They can also provide advice on important life issues that parents may not feel comfortable discussing. According to one AARP survey, more than half of grandparents give their grandchildren advice on such important subjects as illegal drug use, religion, and morals.
They Teach the Value of Family
One of the most important aspects of being a grandparent is imparting to grandchildren the importance of family. Through their actions of being involved and supportive, grandparents show their grandchildren that family extends beyond just immediate family. Children who enjoy a close relationship with their grandparents are shown what an important role extended family plays in the family dynamic and are more likely to carry those strong family views with them into adulthood. In a 2012 study conducted by MetLife, the majority of grandparents surveyed indicated teaching their grandchildren their personal and family values as being extremely important to them and 67% reported that teaching grandchildren the importance of preserving family ties as being their highest priority in that area.
They Teach Children New Skills
Ask an adult about spending time with their grandparents during childhood and you are likely to hear fond memories of baking with Grandma or working in the garden with Grandpa. Grandparents can teach their grandchildren skills that they may not have learned otherwise. Many parents are busy with work and commitments, but grandparents often have the time to devote to teaching their grandchildren the skills that they have learned during their life – which can translate into good life skills for them to have down the road. In the MetLife study, it was found that 33% of the grandparents surveyed cook or bake with their grandchildren, 28% make crafts with them, 30% actively read with them and take them to the library, and 7% engage their grandchildren in volunteering within the community.
They Teach Kids Not to Sweat the Small Stuff
Grandparents have been around the block a few times and they are at a point in their lives where they can step back and realize that fretting over every little obstacle or missed opportunity doesn’t do anybody any good. When their grandchild is facing a tough loss or is devastated by not getting a scholarship or job she wanted, grandparents can let her know that everything will work out in the end. Grandparents can reassure their grandchildren that there is nothing that they won’t bounce back from – and they have the real life stories to prove it. In a 2000 study of Iowa families it was found that children who reported a close relationship with a grandparent perceived themselves to be more competent academically, personally, and socially and that they seemed more self-confident and mature than those who did not report a close relationship with a grandparent.
Being a grandparent is one of the greatest joys that many people experience in life. Grandparents staying in touch with their grandchildren and playing a role in their life is more important than ever. Even those grandparents and grandchildren who are separated by distance can still have a loving and caring relationship.With today’s technology there are many ways for grandparents to keep in touch and stay involved in their grandchildren’s lives. Grandparents are able to utilize video chat, email, phone calls, and vacations to keep in touch and stay involved in their long distance grandchildren’s lives. There are also many apps and games available to make grandparents’ interaction with their grandchildren fun and exciting, even from far away. While not the same as seeing each other in person, technology can help close the gap that distance places on the grandparents and grandchild relationship and keep them connected.
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