We think a lot about setting healthy boundaries with grandparents. But a new study reveals that children who spend more time with theirs are less ageist, and more accepting of the elderly in general. Interestingly, say the researchers, girls in particular “tended to view their own aging more favorably.” So aside from the prospect of your daughter shouting “Down with Botox!” what else do kids get out of this intergenerational lovefest? Read on, then call Nana to book that trip to the zoo.
It eases separation anxiety: “Grandma and grandpa's home is the perfect place to start showing your children that they are loved, safe and secure in other homes,” writes Haley Burress in Parenting. “Your children need to see how other families work, how other relationships succeed and how other homes can be safe and loving too.”
It increases happiness—in both parties: According to a 2015 study out of Boston College, a positive emotional connection between grandparents and grandchildren inoculates both against symptoms of depression. As the study’s lead sociologist Sara Moorman has said, “Grandparents have a wealth of experience—they’ll often tell stories about their lives and how things worked when they were young, and once kids become adults, they’re able to maximize those lessons.”
It improves kids’ behavior: A University of Oxford study found a direct relationship between grandparent involvement and positive social behavior in kids: “Children…with a high level of grandparental involvement had fewer emotional and behavioral problems.”
Grandparents serve as mental health safety nets: When kids are dealing with difficulties from bullying to divorcing parents, grandparents provide consistent unconditional love. The Oxford study “demonstrated that [grandparent] involvement is strongly associated with reduced adjustment difficulties…amongst adolescences from divorced or separated families.” The Boston College study revealed that “affinity with a grandparent is associated with fewer depressive symptoms, especially when the grandchild comes from a single-parent or stepfamily home.” Explains social psychologist Susan Newman: "Grandparents are a security blanket. If there's somebody they trust and know is always on their side, that's a huge emotional plus for the child.”