September 8 is National Grandparents Day – Here’s Why Grandparents are So Important to Our Lives

September 6, 2019 by Institute on Aging
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Sunday, September 8 is National Grandparents Day—not only a time to celebrate, but a time to reflect on the importance of having grandparents.

The common thought around grandparents? They are put on Earth to spoil their grandkids. 

However, the role of a grandparent
can be so much more meaningful that providing birthday gifts and the occasional
babysitting service. Grandparents offer their grandchildren a different
perspective on life and exposure to the past that they can’t always get from
their parents.

Here are just a
few ways that grandparents can make the difference in our own and our
children’s lives.

Grandparents Contribute to Children’s
Well-Being

A University
of Oxford
study in 2008 showed how grandparents were beneficial to kids, especially to adolescents.
The survey of nearly 1,600 children, ages 11 to 16, revealed that heavily
involved grandparents often have more time than working parents to support
young people in activities and are well placed to talk to their grandchildren
about any problems the young people may be experiencing. They were also found
to be involved in helping to solve the young people’s problems, as well as
talking with them about plans for their future.

Grandparents Can Help Kids Eat Better

Despite the reputation
grandparents can have of stuffing little ones with cookies and candy (and
almost no one disputes that this happens from time to time), grandparents do
have some range of influence in getting kids to eat healthier meals. This is especially
true for single working mothers, as discovered in this
study
that showed that grandparents who are caregivers of kids of single
moms did a better job of keeping them active and getting them to eat breakfast
more often.   

Grandparents are Like Chicken Soup for the Soul

When your kids are feeling ill or
sad, grandparents often have just the right capacity to make them feel better.
They often have both the patience and the time to really comfort kids, which
can be challenging for busy parents.

Grandparents can also stave off
depression. A 2016 study from Boston University, as reported by U.S.
News
, found that grandparents who have strong relationships with their
adult grandchildren make a difference in keeping depression at bay on both
sides of the equation.

Grandparents Offer Insight to the “Way Life Used to Be”

If you ask them, grandparents can offer a treasure trove of
stories about the way life was “way back when.” Long before the Internet,
social media and smart phones came along. Back when TV was only in black and
white, phones were rotary dial, and kids made up their own games and
entertainment. Tap into these living history books—you may be surprised at how
interesting their stories are.

What do you do
if your children don’t have grandparents? Look for grandparent “substitutes.” You
will likely find other family members or friends that are willing to step in
and play the role of grandparent. While it’s not quite the same as the real
deal, it will give your child exposure to older adults who are loving, kind and
will make a lasting impression.So on Grandparents Day this year, celebrate the
grandparents, or grandparent-like people, who are part of your and your
childrens’ lives. Buy them flowers, bring them dinner, make them a card or just
sit down and have a meaningful conversation with them.

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