For most grandparents, the opportunity to dote on their grandchildren is a meaningful one for many reasons — the ability to give what they lacked as children or couldn’t as parents, the indulgent nature of limited time together, or the chance to genuinely appreciate how endearing and amusing children are with parental duties alleviated.
While there’s no doubt that this closeness is special to grandma or grandpa, comprehensive scientific evidence supports that raising children near their grandparents plays a beneficial role in a healthy parenting strategy.
It’s important to note that even in geographic separation, there are creative solutions and technological advances that can help nurture a close connection between grandparents and grandchildren, regardless of proximity.
So, whether you are near or far, below are three benefits to raising children close to grandparents that go far beyond a built-in, trusted babysitter.
Connection to heritage and identity
The multi-generational dynamic between grandparents and grandchildren creates a path for priceless education, encourages tolerance of different perspectives (especially aged-based ones), broadens views of the past and present world, and establishes roots, resilience and self-identity.
All of these individual results factor into a child’s understanding of the world and their place in it – strengthening their ability to cope with uncontrollable events and prompting them to consider their own purpose and legacy. There is no short cut to teaching your children to be contributing adults in society, but learning from their grandparents certainly comes close.
An extended support system
The road to raising emotionally stable children begins very early in development. When parents are physically or emotionally unavailable, or when a unique or separate perspective is needed, it’s important to ensure children have additional resources for security and support.
Being a naturally consistent part of a child’s family unit, grandparents are ideal candidates for a trustworthy, consistent support system. Studies have shown that children who are able to maintain close relationships with their grandparents have fewer behavioral issues and can adapt better to traumatic life events.
In addition, this display of support outside of the immediate family will reveal the concept of normalcy in sharing family obligations. If a child’s grandparents are willing to lend a hand or a shoulder, the child will learn that supporting others is not just a parental obligation, but a family obligation – and potentially, a human obligation.
Better Quality of Life – for Everyone
At any age, being surrounded by the things we love is positive and uplifting. And as adults, we’ve learned to prioritize the kinds of high-quality relationships and experiences that bring meaning to our lives. In contrast to this level of authority, a grandparent or grandchild has less control over the frequency and nature of communication and connection with each other, despite how much joy it may bring to their lives (or the scientifically proven fact that kids help grandparents live longer).
As the epicenter of this relationship, parents must do their part to encourage it. Carve out quality time between grandparents and grandchildren that isn’t always based on child care, and encourage an independent line of communication between them through letters or phone calls.
Focus on consistent, full-family togetherness as well. Allow your children to observe you and your grandparents as an example of a functioning support system. Allow your grandparents to reinforce the positive values you hope to instill in your children, including affection and attention. Teach your children to interact with their grandparents beyond the calendar of birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays – but be sure to encourage extra thoughtfulness on those milestones.
These behaviors will teach your children to appreciate the gift of quality time and establish a strong sense of connection, compassion, empathy and belonging now and long into adulthood.
As child care advocates at TOOTRiS, we understand that having the love and support of grandparents in a child’s life is meaningful. We hope learning about the benefits of raising your children near their grandparents is a positive step in your parenting efforts.