Grandparents and Grandchildren: Benefits Are Mutual
Today’s families with young children are busier than ever before, and summer is no exception. When parents work outside the home, they often have to spend evenings and weekends catching up on chores and errands. But many families have a resource willing to help — grandparents, says Donna K. Donald, a family life program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
“Grandparents have something to offer that so many parents lack -- time,” Mrs. Donald said.
“Children who are close to at least one grandparent reap many benefits. They are more emotionally secure and have more positive feelings about older people and the process of aging. They also have an enriched understanding of the world because of what grandparents have taught them about other times and ways of living,” Mrs. Donald continued.
“But the benefits are not just for the grandchildren. Grandparents benefit as well,” the ISU Extension and Outreach specialist said. “Grandchildren are their link to the future, their living legacy, their chance to experience an adult-child relationship that is freer and more playful than that of a parent and child.”
However, the increased mobility of American society has meant many grandparents are striving to establish bonds with grandchildren from a distance, Mrs. Donald said.
Mrs. Donald offers these suggestions to help make connections across the miles.
- Letters and phone calls are good, but pictures and videos can provide good visuals for events grandparents might be missing.
- Use the technology the children are using. If preteens are using text messages or Internet chat, then help grandparents start to communicate with grandchildren using this method.
- Plan a multi-generational family vacation.
- Organize a “Camp Grandma” where children come to the grandparent’s home for a week of special activities.
“Whatever ways you decide to keep in touch, the connection between the generations helps both young and old,” Mrs. Donald said.
“When loving grandparents are involved in family life, it’s good for everyone. Children are supplied with a closeness second only in emotional strength to the parent-child connection, giving a feeling of security not only to the young and old, but also to the parents. And research shows that being a grandparent assures a meaningful and fulfilling old age,” Mrs. Donald said.
For further research-based information on grandparenting relationships, visit the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach online store at https://store.extension.iastate.edu/ or contact your ISU Extension and Outreach county office and request PM 1660E: Managing Stress in Later Life Families.
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