Valuing the Grandparent and Grandchild Relationship

There are a variety of reasons why grandparents are crucial components in a child’s development. According to Dr. Karl Pillemer of Cornell University, the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren is second in emotional importance. This may be because this relationship is second to the primary relationship between parent and child. While children benefit when grandparents are involved in their lives, grandparents also enjoy benefits from the relationship with their grandchildren.

According to a study given by Boston College, “An emotionally close relationship between grandparent and grandchildren is associated with fewer symptoms of depression for both generations.” The study, published online in 2015 in the journal, “The Gerontologist,” included 374 grandparents and 356 adult grandchildren. Researchers looked at data accumulated over a 19-year period. The study stated that grandparent-grandchild relationships often are a result of strong family ties. However, “These intergenerational bonds also come with their own distinctive benefits,” said lead author Sara Moorman, an associate professor of sociology at Boston College.

While a great deal is written about the importance of the relationship between parent and child, very little is written about the relationships between grandparent and grandchild. Yet research shows that roughly three-quarters of parents will become grandparents. And the role of being a grandparent will encompass a third of the lifespan of these adults. For families where one parent or both are absent, or families where parents work and need assistance, grandparents are the first contact. With all this said, the grandparent role is a vital one within a family’s structure. Read on for the top five reasons why all should value and respect the role of the grandparent.

Reason #1: Grandparents offer an extra level of security for parents.All families will need help from time to time. Especially during a time of great stress, like the birth of a new child or when a parent is sick. These are the times when a grandparent can quickly sweep in for the rescue. Some grandparents even take on the larger role of raising children. From raising children due to a parent(s) being incarcerated, to providing childcare for working parents, to helping cover responsibilities if one or both parents are deployed, grandparents are the first call to make when parental coverage is needed.

Reason #2: Grandparents have stronger financial power.Considering that grandparents hold roughly 75% of the wealth of the United States, this demographic truly are an economic powerhouse. And one can highly suspect that much of this wealth can and will be spent on their grandchildren. From establishing college funds to helping pay for children to take extracurricular classes—like dance, baseball, or piano—grandparents can step in and help cover many costs.

Reason #3: Grandparents connect children to their background.Grandparents are the best storytellers when it comes to helping children understand their heritage. They can help fill in the gaps when it comes to the questions about a child’s ethnic background. Through weaving stories of their own life experiences, these storytellers explain a great deal to their listeners about why their family is the way it is.  Research shows that when a child hears about their grandparent’s hardships, their own do not seem as troubling.

Reason #4: Grandparents are the ultimate teachers.From teaching a child how to sew to helping a child with playing a musical instrument, these individuals greatly aid in a child learning new skills. Some of these skills draw from that grandparent’s own childhood, like the time-honored classics: cooking, gardening, cleaning, or small repairs—such as knowing how to change a tire. Some skills are also extremely helpful with helping run the household, like the chores of setting the table, washing dishes, folding laundry, etc. All of these skills are great ones for a child to have.

Reason #5: Grandparents provide unconditional love. While a parent’s role has to be more disciplinarian, a grandparent’s role does not. This is because they are not the parents of the child and get to play the fun duty of doting and spoiling their grandchild. This may seem frivolous, but this is a key aspect to why these figures are so important to a family. Children thrive under positive reinforcement, and having a person constantly give them warm and positive feedback is essential.


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