Study: Strong Grandchild-Grandparent Relationships Reduce Depression
Many people can agree on the importance of keeping family first. In the natural stresses of life, however, it is so easy to forget to keep in contact with the very people who helped create your family – grandma and grandpa. But it’s important to acknowledge that child-parent relationships aren’t the only ones that matter; the child-grandparent relationship matters, too.
We realize not everyone has an amazing, moviesque bond with their grandparents. That would be unrealistic and it simply doesn’t work that way. But whether you’re the child or the grandparent part of the relationship, we hope the following paragraphs help encourage you start or continue to nurture your bond. Why? Because it can be a truly grand one.
Healthy Grandchild-Grandparent Relationships Mean Healthier Lives
In 2014, researchers from Boston College published a study in Gerontologist which looked at the influence that both grandparents and adult grandchildren had on each other over a long-term relationship.
Their curiosity stemmed from the fact that relationships of that sort becoming more common and long-lasting. If this is true, then grandchildren and grandparents should have a significant impact on each other mentally or physically.
Grandchild-Grandparent Relationships: What Did They Find?
The study included 374 grandparents and 356 adult grandchildren and collected data from between 1985 to 2004. Out of this nearly two-decade timespan, researchers observed that strong relationships between grandchildren and grandparents reduced depressive symptoms in both.
However, for grandparents only, symptoms of depression increased when they received functional or ‘tangible’ support (e.g., rides to the store, money, assistance with household chores, and advice) without also providing it.
Ever heard of the saying, it’s better to give than to receive? This study upholds that truth. It suggests that grandparents want to give and be involved and engaged with their younger counterparts. And for good reason!
Consider the fact that many grandparents in the study who gave and received tangible support exhibited the fewest symptoms of depression over almost twenty years. This, according to Sara M. Moorman, associate professor of sociology at Boston College, should encourage “more grandparents and grandchildren to engage in this type of exchange [as it] may be a fruitful way to reduce depression in older adults.”
Ultimately, “the greater emotional support grandparents and adult grandchildren received from one another, the better their psychological health.”
What This Means for Parents
In another study, researcher Shalhevet Attar-Schwartz of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem highlighted the significant role parents play in the grandchild-grandparent relationship.
In fact, “parents should be aware of their role as gatekeepers in the relationship between their children and their parents,” Attar-Schwartz said. “They should also be aware of grandparents’ potential to be an important resource in their children’s lives, especially if the family is undergoing a change, such as divorce or remarriage, or if the child is undergoing a painful or challenging experience. Sometimes children feel that it is easier to open up to their grandparents and share their difficulties and dilemmas with them.”
Now you’re aware of the positive effect grandchildren and grandparents can have on each other. So, help nurture that relationship! Bridge a relationship between your kids and parents that will help them grow older in happiness and good health.
We’ll leave you with some wise and humble words from politician Rudy Giuliani:
“What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.”
Help make sure your kids are able to experience a true essential of life – their grandparents.