Many years ago, families stayed close together throughout their lifetimes. Whether it was due to the difficulty of traveling hundreds of miles or the need to stick together in order to find adequate food, shelter, and security, most families consisted of at least three generations. If they didn’t live in the same home, they often lived within the same community.
Children were raised by parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. They became accustomed to seeing both younger adults and the elderly in their separate roles. They were well acquainted with the aging process and it was accepted. The elderly were often respected for their knowledge and the younger folks helped to meet the needs of their grandparents as they aged. Social isolation during our later years was less of an issue as families remained close.
The beauty of this relationship was that children could benefit from the wisdom of their elders, develop a sense of respect, compassion, and care for seniors. In addition, children could learn from experience that aging is an acceptable process. Parents, on the other hand, had the assistance of the elders in the work of caring for their family, while the elderly were allowed to be useful and to experience the joy that children can bring.
What Children Can Receive from Their Relationships with Grandparents
A close relationship benefits the health and well-being of both grandparent and grandchild. For grandchildren, the biggest gift of this all-important bond is the endless supply of love, acceptance, patience and unwavering support that grandparents uniquely have to offer. In healthy relationships, grandkids can find in their grandparents a safe harbor—someone they trust and know is always on their side. This extra layer of support can have lasting positive effects on the child’s emotional well-being.
What Grandparents Receive from Healthy Relationships with Grandkids
Becoming a Grandparent can be life changing—an adrenaline shot that restores your energy, optimism, youthfulness and sense of purpose. Recent studies also show that emotional closeness between grandparents and grandchildren can protect against depression, boost brain function and lead to a longer life.
As parents, we often feel that we are still learning about life—and we are! Grandparents play a role in the family for passing down the family history, telling stories about a time long ago, and instilling lessons about living a grateful and full life. Your children may one day roll their eyes as they listen to you tell your college stories for the twentieth time, but when their grandparents begin to tell a tale about their childhood, we can bet your child will tune in. These stories will help shape them and introduce a strong familial tie into their lives.