About 60% of parents and adult children report closeness (Bengston, 2001). The birth of a grandchild often increases this closeness. Two of my mother’s favorite photos are of the four generations that summarize her long life — four ladies, ironically.
Grandparents serve their grandchildren as storytellers, family historians, playmates, and life coaches (Sheehy, 2002).
Grandchildren give grandparents
- a sense of purpose in life
- opportunities to pass on values
- a chance to redo or undo some of the parenting mistakes of the past
- the opportunity to heal wounds of the past the relationship between parents and adult child
“Grandchildren soften our hearts. They loosen the sludge of old resentments and regrets. It’s a chance for reconciliation between ourselves and our children.” (Sheehy, 2002)
Sheehy’s rules for effective grand-parenting include:
- provide support to your children, not advice
- learn to wait your turn for time with grandchildren
- have close relationships by modern means of communication (I have recently discovered the joys of FaceTime with my preschool-age granddaughter!)
Sadly, generational closeness can decrease when there is divorce and remarriage.