The Importance of Grandparents Seeing Their Grandchildren
The importance of grandparents seeing their grandchildren isn’t just for the benefit of the kids, it’s actually mutually beneficial. Grandparents and their grandchildren share a unique and special bond, and regular contact helps to strengthen that relationship. Enriching the lives of both generations.
We’re looking at the impact they have on each other and the importance of grandparents seeing their grandchildren:
Valuable Lessons to be Learnt
With age comes wisdom, and as grandparents, you will have the life experience to pass on valuable lessons to your grandchildren.
When your grandchildren are very young, you’ll play an active role in their learning of essential tasks. Adolescence can present complex challenges for your grandchildren. They’ll gradually begin to experience adulthood for the first time, and your guidance can help them to make good choices. Grandparents often take on a mentoring role for their grandchildren. Reiterate to them that you will always listen to what they have to say, and offer sound advice when they need it.
But this works both ways. Grandchildren are a line to new and developing ideals and culture changes and help keep grandparents up to date. The learning is two-way and often grandparents see their grandkids and ‘parent’ differently, with more understanding and a different perspective than they had the first time around.
Mental Health Benefits
The recent – and welcome – emphasis on mental health awareness has cast a light on ailments that are detrimental to all generations. Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental health conditions amongst the general population, and they can take a significant toll on young and older people alike.
A strong, positive relationship between grandparents and grandchildren can actually help to alleviate some of these symptoms. Research conducted at Boston College found correlation between a close grandparent-grandchild relationship and fewer symptoms of depression in both generations. There is also evidence to suggest that a strong bond with their grandparents can reduce instances of anxiety and depression in children, as well as promoting behaviours such as generosity and kindness.
Regular visits help to strengthen the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren; the potential health benefits give even more reason to spend time together!
Intergenerational Understanding & Appreciation
There can sometimes be a disconnect between generations. A misperception about a profound difference in interests and experiences can create a generational gap.
A close bond between grandparents and their grandchildren helps to bridge that gap. We often have a lot more in common than we initially think! Grandparents love to take an interest in their grandkids’ favourite hobbies and activities. Whether it’s cheering from the sidelines at a sports game, being in the audience at a recital, taking their grandkids to practice, purchasing their equipment, or simply checking in for an update on how their hobby is going, taking an active interest allows grandparents and grandchildren to bond over a shared activity.
When grandchildren appreciate the role of grandparents in their lives, it seeps into their understanding of the older generation as a whole. Instead of viewing them as ‘old-fashioned’, children will find common ground as they do with their own grandparents. This encourages understanding between the generations, and an appreciation of how each generation can enrich the lives of the other.
Unconditional Love and Support
Children need security as they grow up. Whilst the love of their parents is crucial for a happy upbringing, grandchildren also benefit from the unconditional affection of their grandparents. And it works both ways. There’s nothing better than the unconditional and unjudging love of a child!
Parenting isn’t always easy; as well as providing encouragement, parents will also encounter times of conflict, reasons to discipline their children, and disappointment in unexpected behaviour. This is all perfectly normal. Grandparents are not usually as actively involved in that aspect of a child’s upbringing, so they are well-placed to offer relief in turbulent times.
This is not to say that a grandparent should interfere with the parenting style of their children. Rather, they are a support mechanism and an additional layer of love for both their children and their grandchildren. Which leads us to the next point…
Alleviate Parental Pressure
With increasing demands on the time of busy parents, grandparents are well-placed to offer support in taking care of their grandchildren.
There are plenty of ways that grandparents can help. They can pick up their grandchildren up from school, take them to extracurricular activities and look after them if parents need some time to decompress.
Parents will always appreciate this support, and this can strengthen the parental bond with grandparents. Plus, it provides grandparents seeing their grandchildren additional precious time to bond.
Grandparents Provide a Link to Their Heritage
At some point in our lives, most of us will take an interest in our family history. It’s fascinating to discover where we came from, the identity of our relatives, and the decisions they made that brought us to where we are now.
Grandparents provide an invaluable link to family history. The rich knowledge they’ve gathered is enormously useful to their descendants, and they’ll also be able to clue their family in on who is present in old photos. This can be a springboard for grandchildren to conduct further research, and delve deep into the stories of their ancestors.
Grandparents are also the custodians of traditions; whether they are unique to the family, or common across a religious or ethnic background. Traditions have an influence on our identities, and learning them from grandparents helps children to understand and appreciate who they are in the context of their family origins. When grandparents see their grandchildren it helps them pass down their heritage to the next generation.
New Lease on Life
Sadly, there are people who believe that as they get older, their life loses some of the direction it had when they were younger. This certainly isn’t true of everyone, but it can be a blight on the lives of older people, particularly post-retirement.
The good news is that grandchildren bring zeal back into the lives of their adoring grandparents! Their energy is infectious, and seeing them regularly helps to give new purpose to their grandparents. Planning day trips, holidays, sleepovers, and fun projects provide both parties with plenty of things to look forward to.
Unfortunately, loneliness is a problem that persists for the older generation. As we grow older, it may become more of a challenge to keep as active a social life as we had in our youth, and isolation can result.
Regular visits with grandchildren can change that; offering companionship for grandparents, and something for both parties to look forward to. Children love chatting with their grandparents, after all!
The same is true for grandchildren. Although they will be busy with school and social engagements, they appreciate the unwavering companionship of their grandparents, who they can always rely on to listen and give good advice. It’s a win-win!
Assisting With Child Development
The development of a child’s personality is influenced by their parents, teachers, friends, and other family members.
Grandparents play a key role here; encouraging good behaviour and positive personality traits, and gently helping their grandchildren to understand how they can improve their behaviour when the boundaries are pushed a little too far.
Children also take cues from how their parents interact with other people. When they see you being warm, kind, compassionate, and caring, they will emulate your good example. We sometimes forget how perceptive kids are, but know that your positive behaviour has a profound influence on theirs!
Memories That Last a Lifetime
The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is incredibly precious. Grandparents are protectors, confidants, nurturers, and most importantly, loyal friends. They enrich the lives of their grandchildren in numerous ways, shaping their childhoods and providing cherished memories that last a lifetime.
Regular contact with grandparents is an essential part of growing up. The love, wisdom, and support that children receive from their grandparents helps them to flourish as they navigate the journey to adulthood. In short, it’s time well-spent!