There’s no way to fully express the joy of being a grandparent. It’s wonderful to be a part of your grandkids’ journeys as they grow, learn, and explore their worlds. Creating that close-knit bond can give you a sense of purpose and fulfillment, and boost happiness in your later years. However, being present in your grandchildren’s lives isn’t just good for you — it’s good for them, too! A growing body of research suggests that children benefit from a strong grandparent-grandchild relationship in more ways than one.
It boosts their mental health.
Previous research has shown that having a close relationship with grandchildren can sharpen adults’ memories, as well as their overall cognitive health. But in a study published by The Gerontologist in 2016, researchers wanted to know whether grandparents had better mental health if they had strong connections with their grandkids. The team collected waves of data between 1985 and 2004 and analyzed the relationships of over 700 grandparents and grandchildren.
As predicted, grandparents who had tight bonds with their grandkids were less likely to be depressed or experience depressive symptoms, such as loss of interest in daily activities, and feelings of irritability or loneliness. Interestingly, the grandchildren benefited in the same way — and this was true even as the grandchildren progressed into their adult lives.
They may have fewer emotional and behavioral problems.
According to a research paper from Contemporary Social Science, grandparent involvement can improve the social skills of grandchildren. In addition, a grandparent-grandchild relationship reduces the likelihood that grandchildren will have emotional and behavioral problems.
The research authors point to several studies conducted in the UK, Israel, South Africa, and Malaysia. All the studies focused on grandparents who were not the primary caregivers but an important part of their grandchildren’s lives. The grandparents’ teenage grandkids tended to have fewer developmental problems and better cognitive and social abilities, as shown in a series of surveys and tests.
It’s worth noting that some emotional and behavioral problems are strongly tied to genetics. As a result, there’s no guarantee that a grandparent’s presence will reduce the likelihood of emotional and behavioral issues in grandkids. Still, it’s good to know that a grandparent’s love and nurture has concrete benefits.
It strengthens their morals.
Sabrina Bowen, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Rockville, Maryland, told Fatherly that grandparents can help teach grandkids moral values. And indeed, a study from the Journal of Family Issues found that grandparents serve as role models, often discussing appropriate versus inappropriate behaviors with their grandchildren. They can also help with homework, encourage grandkids to work toward their goals (big or small), and provide emotional support. All these efforts can help improve a child’s moral values and help them see right from wrong.
As a grandparent, don’t underestimate the positive influence you can have on your grandkids. The more time you spend with them, the more likely they are to form strong bonds of trust and love with you that will carry them through the rest of their lives.
Do you or your grandchild need a little pick-me-up? Schedule a visit today, if you can!