For generations, grandparents have provided practical help, unwavering support, a wise listening ear and of course childcare, all at no cost. How good are grandparents.
Relationship Psychologist Megan Tuohey says children who have access to grandparents who love them will experience a broader and deeper sense of belonging.
“These children are more likely to experience those same feelings of security and belonging in the world as they move through to adulthood. It provides a sense of security and trust in their lives.”
A close relationship between a grandparent and grandchild can have a positive impact on the happiness and wellbeing of the entire family. Simply put, having grandparents around is good for everyone. Having two levels of love and support in a family is particularly beneficial for children in their formative years. Children will often find it easier to listen to a grandparent than a parent!
Through a grandparent’s beliefs and values a child’s perspective of what constitutes a healthy, normal relationship is often shaped by the relationship the child has with a grandparent.
One study (Boston College) found “An emotionally close relationship between grandparent and grandchild is associated with fewer symptoms of depression for both generations. For children, having grandparents around means having the perfect companions to play with and have fun. Grandparents are some of the best partners when it comes to using creativity and imagination to discover the wonders of life.
In turn, most grandparents truly love their role. The benefits to grandparents of having grandchildren in their lives cannot be overstated. Grandparents who are active in their grandchildren’s lives experience better health and a greater sense of purpose. In fact, many grandparents believe being a grandparent is the single most important role in their lives. Grandparents also offer a link to a child’s cultural heritage and family history.
Millions of grandparents look after grandchildren on a regular basis. Leaving children in the capable hands of grandparents gives parents an irreplaceable sense of comfort and security.
Of course not every child has a grandparent. This need not be cause for despair. The best foundation a child can have is to be raised in an intact, loving family.
Likewise, not every older person either has grandchildren or in more tragic cases, access to their grandchildren. For those denied access, the excellent work of organisations like Grandparents For Grandchildren is acknowledged. Here again, removing the obstacles and burdens which lead to such scenarios should be a priority for legislators – including introducing subsidies for grandparents who look after grandchildren, especially considering the amount spent looking after children in government care.
Australia’s aged care system costs billions and the horrific tales out of the Aged Care Royal Commission show it is a system that isn’t working. From grandparents to great grandparents, relocating elders away from living with their families and into nursing homes to be looked after by strangers has not been good for society as a whole. Much more needs to be done to support families caring for aged parents and grandparents at home with the family.
The family should always be Plan A.