Monday, November 1, 2010

The Protective Role of Grandparents

Being a grandparent today can mean many things. Many grandparents have a daily impact on their grandchildren because they live in the same household or they may be serving as surrogate parents. In fact, nearly 6% of children in the U.S. are now being raised by their grandparents.

These grandparents find themselves parenting their grandchildren when the adult child is unable to care for their own children and the grandparents step into help. Research tells us that grandparents are also the most willing of any family member to take grandchildren into their home.

Additionally, grandparents can affect grandchildren even when they don’t live under the same roof. Grandparents can make a difference “from a distance” by positively affecting a child’s development. Recent findings have shown that grandparents buffer the negative effects of high risk circumstances on children. For example, a grandchild’s sense of emotional closeness to, frequency of contact with, and their view of grandparents as a source of social support can buffer the negative effects of poverty and family stress.

The researchers also found that the closer grandchildren were to their grandparents, the less likely they were to be depressed as adults, particularly if their mother experienced depression during their childhood years.

As we can see, keeping children involved in their grandparent’s lives for the sake of Grandma and Grandpa is only part of the picture. These studies show that it certainly goes both ways! Grandparents are important in children’s lives, especially when facing difficult circumstances.

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