The importance of grandparents in a child’s life should not be overlooked as grandparents play an integral role in many ways. Through the unconditional love that a grandparent offers, to the wisdom of family information they share, and their desire to be involved in their grandchild’s life, a grandparent can be the missing link for children when it comes to building the self-esteem and self-confidence that will carry them through life.
There have been many studies throughout the years that have proven that the time a child spends with grandparents can have a positive impact on the lives of both child and grandparent. From increasing understanding and tolerance of older people to providing an alternative safe home for a child to go to, the benefits of a grandparent/grandchild relationship are many and varied.
On the one hand, children receive much needed one on one time with an adult that loves them, that they can learn from and that has the time to play without the pressure of needing to do other things.
Often our lifelong loves such as love of theatre, movies, music, cooking, cars, travel etc have stemmed from time we have spent with a grandparent throughout our life. For me, some of my fondest memories and my love of going to the movies comes from the quality time I would spend with my nanna during school holidays and that always included a trip to the movies. I have now started taking my grandson to the movies and we both love our nanna movie days where we get to just enjoy being us and doing what we love together.
This type of bonding experience is integral to a child’s development as they build their own personality, they learn about the world through different eyes and they begin to discover what life is like in the world outside of their home and their parents, yet still in the care of someone they love and trust.
Of course, the grandparents also receive the unconditional love of a child and gain the ability to know they are playing an important role in the life of their grandchild and this not only helps boost emotional and physical well-being but can often give grandparents a renewed lease on life.
Grandparents can also become a safe haven from an unsettled or conflicted home or school life. In situations where a family is under stress, during times of separation, illness etc or perhaps a child is having problems at school, a grandparent offers a safety net of sorts that a child knows they can fall back on and land in loving arms that will support and guide.
Of course, there are many children who don’t have the benefit of having grandparents for a variety of reasons. In those times it can be beneficial to identify a trusted older person who wants to be a part of your child’s life – a “stand in or surrogate grandparent”. This could be someone who may not have their own grandchildren or who has grandchildren that don’t live close by. There are many people who have the love and time to share with a child and often the only thing in the way is that we fail to ask the question.
The social experiment “Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds” was conducted last year and gave us wonderful insight into the benefits for children and the elderly when they are encouraged to interact. The bonds that were formed and relationships built were nothing short of extraordinary and certainly opened our hearts and minds to the benefits of encouraging more of these types of environments where children and the elderly are given the opportunity to provide the life, emotional and physical skills the other needs.
Regardless of whether it’s a grandma, grandpa, nanna, poppy, nonno or nonna – a grandparent holds a special place in the life of a child and builds an emotional resilience that takes us through to adulthood.