Studies Show the Many Benefits of Living Near Grandma and Grandpa
A decrease in depression, an increase in unsolicited parenting advice
It seems that grandparents provide us with a lot more than just homemade chocolate chip cookies and extra cash.
Studies have shown that there are plenty of pros that come along with having grandma and grandpa close by. A 2008 study from the University of Oxford noted that grandparents who are more involved benefited their grandchildren’s well-being, especially in families with divorced or separated parents, with kids often turning to their grandparents for advice and support.
Another study, which focused on working mothers, found that children are more active and likelier to eat breakfast when there’s a grandparent living in the home. Grandparents can also teach kids morals, values and language skills, as well as providing information about family history, which research indicates can also be used as an index for assessing a child’s well being.
And while grandpas have kind of gotten the short end of the stick in the past, (grandmas were thought to have more of an impact on grandchildren because of that womanly instinct) newer research shows that grandfathers play a different but equally significant role. In a study about step-grandparents, step-grandfathers spend more time playing with their grandkids and had tighter, more emotional bonds compared to step-grandmothers.
But it’s not just grandkids reaping all the benefits: grandparents also gain some health benefits from spending time with their grandkids. Caring for grandchildren can increase a grandparent’s self-worth, and a 2016 study indicated that those strong relationships reduced depression in both grandparents and grandchildren.
There’s also the money factor. More than 50 percent of millennial parents reported that they rely on their parents for a minimum of an hour of babysitting each week, and estimate they save an average of $300 a week.
Of course, it isn’t all rainbows and unpaid labor; some research has shown that there are negative mental and physical health effects grandparents face when caring for grandchildren. Live-in grandparents work more hours, and some have even reported that they hate living with children, feel more stress, and are angry with the living arrangement according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Parents have also noted that they often feel more criticized about how they’re raising their children when grandparents are frequently around.
But as with any relationship, it’s important to have discussions about lifestyle choices and boundaries, preferably before you move in together.
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