A grandparent’s love for their grandchildren is often said to be the most magical love of all – it’s boundless, unconditional and unbreakable. Without the daily pressures of parenting, grandparents and grandchild often develop a bond that is as close as it is strong
Now a study from Brigham Young University in the USA, which examined the role grandparents play in the development of children, has confirmed what every grandparent knows (or hopes, at least) – grandparents are key to grandchildren’s happiness!
“We wanted to see how grandparents matter to children, so we asked a number of questions related to emotional closeness to grandparents,” said lead author Jeremy Yorgason, assistant professor in the School of Family Life.
The study asked 408 fifth graders questions about their relationship with their grandparents including whether they get advice on important decisions and feel like they can discuss problems with their grandparents. The questions were followed up a year later.
The results found “the emotional relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren can significantly affect the children’s academic, psychological, and social development.” When grandparents are involved in their grandchildren’s lives, kids are not only more social but also more engaged in school. Researchers also noted kids were more likely to develop pro-social skills essential for social development, such as showing care, compassion and kindness for people who are not part of their inner circles.
“Grandparents matter above and beyond parents,” said Yorgason, adding, “They are an important resource.” Regular contact with adults outside children’s immediate family means they are more likely to be able to think outside of themselves.
The strong grandparent-grandchild connection was found regardless of income or whether it was a single parent or two parent households. In fact, grandparents who do not live with their grandkids were found to have the strongest bond.
As the study notes, it may be because “non-resident grandparents take on a role that encourages positive development rather than disciplining negative behaviour… which is particularly important in early-adolescence when parent-child conflict increases.” Grandkids can find secure allies in grandparents, Yorgarson said, continuing, “Grandparents are like the National Guard, if there is a problem, they come in and help out.”
All in all, the study concluded, “children have a higher level of self-confidence when grandparents give more affection. Such emotional closeness has long-term positive impacts on children’s lives, including the value children derive from giving and receiving care from another person.”
The message to takeaway from this study? A close grandparent-grandchild bond does a world of good for both generations and grandparents can and do make a difference in a grandchild’s life. So go forth, and continue loving your grandchildren because you’re doing the right thing!