Grandparents play a very important role in the lives of their grandchildren. We are seeing a rise in the number of grandparents caring for the younger generation for a variety of reasons. These grandparents are apt to be more youthful, vigorous, alert, and energetic, with plenty of ideas and enthusiasm. Kids do keep us young!
Grandparents can do many important things for their grandchildren:
- Help children feel secure and loved
- Play a crucial role during family transitions, such as divorce
- Help children learn to know, trust, and understand other people
- Help children to bridge the gap between the past and present
- Provide experiences and supervision that parents do not have time or money to provide
- Give children a sense of values and a philosophy of life from years of living
- Play arbitrator between parents and children
- Give children a wholesome attitude toward old age
Grandparents can offer tremendous support to their children and grandchildren. Outside the child’s nuclear family, grandparents are the most important figures in most families.
Grandparents influence grandchildren directly when they serve as caregivers, playmates, family historians, mentors, mediators between parent and child, sources of gifts and treats, confidante and advocate for the child.
Grandparents influence grandchildren indirectly when they provide psychological and material support to parents, who then have more resources for parenting.
Gender plays a role. Grandmothers are more likely to be involved than grandfathers and appear to play a powerful role in grandchildren’s well-being.
In turn, grandchildren can do many things for grandparents:
- Serve as a source of biological continuity and living evidence that the family will endure
- Enhance grandparent’s self-concept
- Keep grandparents up-to-date (how to use that computer or smartphone!!)
- Older grandchildren can provide certain types of assistance to help grandparents maintain an independent lifestyle
Geographic proximity to grandparents is the most important predictor of the grandparent-grandchild relationship.
Think about some of the important contributions that your grandparents have made to your life…
Ask your grandparents to tell you about the important contributions that you have made to their lives…