A study conducted by Sara M. Moorman, assistant professor at Boston College accentuates the strength of the grandparent/grandchild bond. Her research concludes that grandparents who share a reciprocally supportive relationship with their adult grandchildren are happier and show fewer depressive symptoms than those who do not.
For the research, Moorman’s team studied 376 grandparents and 340 grandchildren. The average birth year of the grandparents surveyed was 1917, while that of the grandchildren was 1964. All participants were tracked between 1985 and 2004; their median ages halfway through the study were 77 and 31, respectively.
No Surprise There
These findings certainly aren’t news to grandparents and grandchildren who have mutual love for one another. As one Grandma so eloquently shares in the article Grandparenting Skills are a Gift, grandparents typically have more patience to spend the time it takes to teach their grandchild life skills such as needlework or to ease her fears over such things as simple as swallowing a pill.
They can also have just as much influence over their grandchildren, maybe even more, than their parents do; they are calmer and better able to encourage their grandkids without coming off as threatening.
An added bonus is their knowledge of family history; I treasure a missive my grandfather completed for his descendants in 1974. Simply titled “As I Remember” it’s a record of all of his memories year by year, beginning in 1900 when he was two years old.
No Strangers to Change
The challenges kids face today can seem overwhelming; the changes brought about by technological advancement and social media sites such as Face Book and Twitter have been exponential.
But today’s grandparents aren’t strangers to culture and societal change. Many of them are baby boomers who were teenagers and young adults themselves during the Vietnam war and the Civil Rights movement. Some were college students when riots broke out on campuses around the country in the 1960s. They can relate to the uncertainty their grandkids are facing and are living proof that such change is just a part of life.
Healthier than Ever
An added bonus: today’s grandparents are “off their rockers” — fifty is the new forty, after all. Many are like Julie T., an energetic grandmother and friend of mine who can easily keep up with the physical demands of caring for her young grand kids. And, thanks to medical research, many grandparents will live longer and healthier lives than ever before.
So parents, foster your children’s relationship with their grandparents; strong bonds between them can insure they have happier lives as adults.