Grandparent, adult grandchildren relationships mutually beneficial

One of the many benefits of living longer is grandparents get to see their grandchildren become adults. While scientists have conducted much research about the benefits and effects of positive relationships between grandparents and their young grandchildren, until recently little research had been conducted about the relationships between grandparents and adult grandchildren. Recent studies show that positive relationships between these two groups are mutually beneficial.

A study conducted by Boston College researchers showed that close emotional bonds between grandparents and their adult grandchildren is associated with fewer symptoms of depression in both generations. Researchers also found that grandparents who helped out their grandchildren and received assistance from their grandchildren had the fewest symptoms of depression. Grandparents who received support but could not reciprocate, had the most depressive symptoms.

Another study, led by a University of Texas researcher, looked at the frequency of grandparents offering support to their adult grandchildren. Researchers found that listening, emotional support and companionship were the most common things grandparents gave to their adult grandchildren. The study also found that grandparents were a greater means of support to their grandchildren when the child’s parent was experiencing life problems or was unemployed. Grandparents listening, advice and companionship with their adult grandchildren ran hand-in-hand with parents providing these same types of support to the child.

As we age, it’s important not to forget the strong bonds that formed years ago as grandparents and young grandchildren. Everyone gets busy, but it’s important for us to take time to enjoy these relationships as much as possible. Whether over the phone or in person, continuing these relationships can be helpful to both generations in ways neither can imagine.

For more information on raising strong families, contact the Harlan County Cooperative Extension Service.

Lora Davidson is the Harlan County Extension agent for family & consumer sciences. Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.