Granny and grandpa. Grandpa and nana. Papa and oma. We may use different names, but one thing crosses all cultures: grandparents play an irreplaceable role in our lives and our hearts. Many of us can recount memories of talking with grandma about what she did “back in the day,” or stories of grandpa, from his days fighting in wars, working in a factory, or going to college.
According to Dr. Karl Pillemer of Cornell University, “Research shows that as many as 9 out of 10 adult grandchildren feel their grandparents influenced their values and behaviors. Grandparents transmit to their grandchildren the values and norms of social order.”
Grandparents are usually four times the age of the child, and are a fountain of wisdom, knowledge, patience, and perspective. When you think of your grandparents, whether they are still with you, or have passed away, they always hold a special place in your heart for many reasons. Here are some reasons why the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is so important:
1. Grandparents love their grandkids
This may seem obvious, but grandparents really value and enjoy the time they spend with their grandkids. According to the American Grandparents Association:
- 72% think being a grandparent is the single most important and satisfying thing in their life
- 63% say they can do a better job caring for grandchildren than they did with their own children
- 68% think being a grandparent brings them closer to their adult children
- 90% enjoy talking about their grandkids to just about everyone
2. Family history
Who knows the family history better than grandma? Who can tell you stories of Great Uncle Joe and your dad better than grandpa? Knowing where you came from helps you have a sense of where you’re going. There is healthy pride in knowing your roots—how your family got to where they are. Every family faces struggles, obstacles, and joys. Knowing how your family overcame these gives you a sense of legacy and pride.
3. Wisdom & Perspective
Sometimes, we become so consumed with our current stage in life that we think that’s all there is. Especially if we are going through a trying time in life, it’s good to know it’s just a stage and that life is so much bigger than our current circumstances. What we need is perspective, and grandparents are amazing at giving perspective.
Grandparents have already been through our stage of life. They may not have experienced every single situation we have, but they have survived a myriad of circumstances and seasons. They can also be a source for great parenting tips and tricks!
A recent article from Health Guidance on the importance of grandparents describes grandparents as, “a goldmine store of knowledge. Not all grandparents may possess bookish knowledge, but they have a wealth of real life experiences and information to share, which is not taught in any of the schools out there.”
4. Building positive relationships
Parents love their children. Grandparents love their grandchildren. But, they love them in different ways. There’s a stereotype of “what happens at grandma’s house stays at grandma’s house” for a reason. Grandparents love to spoil their grandkids in attention and affection. When grandparents are spending time with their grandkids, they are usually retired empty-nesters, so they are less stressed and have more time to be nurturing and loving. They have slowed down, so they are usually calm and have more patience, which is very beneficial to children.
Having that one-on-one, quality time with a grandma or grandpa helps the children have special attention, gives parents a break, and creates a positive role model early-on for the kids. One of the best things a parent can give to their child is the positive emotional and social support that comes from a relationship with their grandparents.
5. Bridging the generation gap
Establishing normal, healthy relationships with your elders early on is not only healthy for your child, the parents, and grandparents, but also the greater community. Lack of understanding between generations can lead to social division in society. When younger people mix with older adults, they learn how to communicate and understand each other. By starting early and often, communicating with people of different ages helps bridge the generation gap and opens lines of communication that transcend age.