New study shows that a grandmother’s love can protect grandkids from life’s challenges

Study shows that support from a maternal grandmothers can have far reaching benefits for kids as they face life's challenges. Source: Getty Images.

Being a grandparent is a truly fulfilling experience. Whether functioning as a second parent or becoming a grandchild’s partner-in-crime, grandparents fulfill various roles throughout their grandchildren’s lives to enjoy the rewards of one of life’s most joyful relationships.

In the study of evolutionary biology, it’s believed that grandparents help raise their grandchildren to improve their chances of survival. However, we don’t know how big of an effect it has or if it’s always the same.

However, a new study, conducted recently by the University of Turku in Finland and published on, has now shown that specifically, a maternal grandmother’s input is “key to a child’s wellbeing” and likely to “reduce emotional and behavioural problems resulting from adverse childhood experiences”.

Some of the “adverse childhood experiences” included the passing of a family member or someone close to them struggling with substances.

The study was based on a survey that was completed by 1,197 English and Welsh adolescents aged between 11 and 16 years.

Regarding the outcome of the survey, senior researcher from the University of Turku, Samuli Helle said, “The results show that support given by maternal grandmothers can improve the well-being of children who have experienced adversities in life. The positive effects could be expected to last into adulthood.”

Maternal grandmothers were noted for providing impactful support in the form of childcare or financial aid. However, support from other grandparents did not yield the same level of influence.

Helle added, “The effects of adversities during the sensitive periods of development in childhood can last long into adulthood. They can manifest in adulthood, for example, in a higher risk of premature death and a lower likelihood of having children.”

Supporting a grandchild isn’t solely the responsibility of the maternal grandmother. There are countless ways that all grandparents can contribute positively to the lives of their beloved grandchildren.

Grandparenthood is a beautiful time in one’s life. You get the same unconditional love you feel for your children and numerous other benefits, such as no more sleepless nights and fewer poopy nappies!

As a grandparent, you also benefit from being older and wiser with more time on your hands to invest in the little people in your life, creating a secure and nurturing environment for their growth.

There are many ways that grandparents can leverage this new phase in life to positively shape their grandchildren’s character, values, and life skills.

Speaking to Starts at 60 recently, certified psychologist and life coach, Bayu Prihandito shared some of the other important roles grandparents can fulfill in their grandchildren’s lives:

– Mentorship: Grandparents often step into a mentorship role, offering guidance and advice that is distinct from what parents can provide. They’ve “been there, done that”, and their life experiences can be educational and sometimes entertaining for grandchildren navigating their own life’s challenges.

– Resilience and coping skills: Grandparents can share how they’ve specifically overcome obstacles and dealt with life’s ups and downs. This can help instill a sense of resilience, strength, and teach practical coping skills to their grandchildren.

– Emotional support and wisdom: Grandparents have the experience and wisdom that is both beneficial but also essential for a child’s development. Their stories and life lessons can enrich the child’s perspective and offer a deeper understanding of the world around them.

– Family traditions: They are usually seen as the bridge to the family’s history and culture. Through stories, traditions, and family rituals, grandparents can share this sense of belonging and identity with their grandchildren, which is key in shaping their values and beliefs.

– Unconditional love: The love between grandparents and their grandchildren is pure and unconditional. It’s a relationship that’s less about discipline and more about acceptance. They offer a safe space, where children feel heard and valued, which can be incredibly reassuring and comforting for them.

– Learning: Grandparents often have the patience and time that parents might struggle to find. They can participate with their grandchildren in many learning activities: from reading and playing games to gardening and cooking, which in return support children with both intellectual and practical skills.

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