Sunday, September 22, 2013

Understanding the Important Dynamic Between Grandparents and Grandkids

If you were fortunate enough to grow up with grandparents, you know just how special that dynamic is. Grandparents and their grandchildren share a special connection, because they inspire each other, teach each other new things, and share a genuine love and affection for one another. In fact, a new study finds that the quality of relationships between grandparents and their grandchildren can significantly boost the well-being of both generations.

The two-decade study examined 376 grandparents and 340 grandkids and tracked the mental health of participants from 1985 to 2004. The findings illustrate that grandparents and adult grandchildren who felt close emotional ties to each other had fewer symptoms of depression. The research shows that this generational bond plays an important role in the happiness of everyone involved.

So, if you’re looking to make sure that your kids have a close relationship with the seniors in their life, consider these tips:

  • Spend quality time together: Some grandparents worry that if they’re not buying their grandkids toys or taking them on expensive outings, then somehow the time together doesn’t “count.” In reality, this couldn't be further from the truth. Kids just want to spend time with their grandparents. Encourage the two to head out on a trip to the zoo or to spend some time playing in the leaves in the backyard. Regardless of the cost of the activity, the time together is ultimately priceless.
  • Share your hobbies: Seniors looking to strengthen the connection with their grandkids should consider sharing their favorite hobbies and pastimes with them. Kids will get a thrill out of cooking, stamp collecting, or gardening, and may end up sharing their grandparent’s passion for the particular hobby. 
  • Make one-on-one time: Many seniors only get to see their grandchildren during major family events like Thanksgiving. However, one-on-one time throughout the year is a necessary part of strengthening a relationship. Even a short weekend visit is enough time to help the children strengthen their bonds with the older generation. Make sure that your kids are getting the time they need with Grandma and Grandpa throughout the year. 

Above all else, a grandparent should make it a point to listen. Children have plenty of stories from summer camp and school to tell, and generally want nothing more than to share these tales with Nana and Pop Pop.

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