Why Children Need Their Grandparents
Isn’t life grand?
This September 13 celebrate National Grandparents Day with reflection and thanksgiving for those silver-haired family members and their unconditional love and support. Honorary days like these give us the opportunity to pause and consider blessings that might otherwise be taken for granted. What could be more worthy of grateful contemplation than the sturdy presence of a grandfather who was always there with a motivational story or the warmth of a grandmother with her boundless reservoir of solutions when life gets rough.
Grandparents are Links to Family History
Children come to know the world only through burgeoning experiences. Their knowledge is limited to present day, their appreciation for history minimal.
Enter the older generations, through whom the glorious parade of history (with all its trials and triumphs) can be seen in vivid colors. Having gone before us, seniors provide a unique insight into lineage and culture. Grandparents offer lessons about a family’s immigration patterns, the journeys of ancestors across the world or between villages, states or countries. The past becomes alive again as children learn their connection to it, and the privilege and obligation of learning from it.
Grandparents enrich their storytelling with family heirlooms, treasures passed from generation to generation, full of significance, anchoring us in time and space. Through amusing or sobering anecdotes, they alone can bring back to life the faces in weathered photo albums.
Grandparents Support Child Development and Education
Though parents are chiefly responsible for child-rearing, grandparents contribute a level of wisdom that only comes with age and experience.
When grandparents are active figures in children’s lives, they support holistic development. Children shape character traits from the people they spend the most time with. Grandparents seem particularly adept at nurturing virtue not through preaching but modeling.
They can demonstrate how best to manage time, become financially independent and self-sufficient. With grandparents at their side, children can learn how count out change to buy a scoop of ice cream and commit to learning a challenging skill. Most kids delight in creating a masterpiece in fingerpaints, long as a grandparent is nearby to praise the workmanship and give it a place of honor on the refrigerator.
Time in the kitchen together becomes so much more than putting the next meal on the table. Legacy recipes are shared. Ethnicity is shared. Memories are sealed with aromas that stay with kids until they themselves are grandparents.
Grandparents Lend an Extra Ear and Hand
We’ve all seen the quips on mugs and t-shirts…”My favorite people call me Grandpa”…”The best parents get promoted to grandparents”…”I’m retired. But I work part-time spoiling my grandkids.”
But a grandparent’s role is more than fun and frivolity. It’s a substantive investment in the future.
From the start of the relationship, grandparents supply willing hands to rock a fretful baby into slumber. As those babies grow, grandparents delight in taking them on adventures, near and far… the neighborhood park, a new-release movie, a popular restaurant (serving plenty of desserts). Grandkids are a great excuse to indulge in hobbies from craft projects to golf, music to photography, fishing to RV travel.
Grandparents are usually available to pick up where parents can’t, driving children to extracurricular activities, helping with homework. They often have a gentle but authoritative presence that inspires children to calm themselves and reflect on their actions.
Grandparents Make Children Happier as Adults
Multiple studies show that children with involved grandparents tend to be happier and more emotionally mature. In one study by Oxford University researchers found that children with involved grandparents are significantly happier than their counterparts who don’t have grandparents. In another study by Boston University researchers found that children who grew up with grandparents had lower rates of depression later on as adults. A study published in The Gerontologist found that positive relationships between grandparents and grandchildren decrease both groups’ rates of depression.
Keep grandparents close and celebrate their presence every day for time is fleeting and life is short. If they’re staying at a local assisted living community like MorningStar, arrange family visits often, even (especially) for babes-in-arms.
The Comfort and Joy is Mutual
For most of us, the surpassing comfort and joy of aging is seeing our progeny grow and flourish. The bonds between generations…the mutual exchange of blessings…enrich life in unprecedented ways, profound ways, even life-extending ways. A recent study reported that seniors who babysit their grandchildren had a 37% chance of living longer than counterparts whose families were separated.
In spending timing with our grandchildren, visiting places new and old, sharing a meal, reading a storybook, we are given a special moment to recall our own childhood with our own grandparents. More tenderly still, if we missed out on moments with our children due to a busy career, we are given a second chance—a do-over. And isn’t that a gift?
At MorningStar Senior Living, we proudly declare our purpose…elevating life for those who taught the rest of us how to live. There is no hyperbole in that statement, only awe-inspiring truth and privilege.
MorningStar team members speak in exalted tones about the lessons learned from elders (their own grandparents as well as our residents)…deep life-altering lessons on the value of hard work and personal responsibility, the sanctity of marriage, what bravery looks like, and the price of the precious freedoms we enjoy in the U.S.
Visit one of our MorningStar communities and we’ll be honored to tell you more.