It’s a question that has been asked for generations: do children prefer their grandparents to Mum and Dad?
In recent years, researchers have conducted experiments to try to settle the matter. In one study, babies were left in a room with either their mother or grandfather.
The infants spent far more time exploring when they had the chance to spend time with their grandparents than they did when they were alone with their parents.
It seems that babies enjoy being around older people who are calmer and less active – which is just what most grandparents want!
Another study, this time of older children, found that when asked to list their favourite people in the world, grandparents often came out on top.
This was especially true for kids who lived far from their grandparents – they tended to rank them higher than parents who lived nearby.
Even adolescents who were struggling with family problems still listed their grandparents as some of their most important people in the world.
So, what’s the reason behind this close bond between grandchildren and grandparents?
It could be something to do with the fact that grandparents have a lot of life experience to share, and they’re usually more relaxed than parents.
They can also offer a different perspective on things, which is interesting for kids. Plus, spending time with grandparents can offer a welcome break from parents’ rules and routines.
But the love between grandparents and grandchildren is often mutual – there are lots of ways to show your grandchild that you really care about them (and that you can be trusted).
Here are some ideas:
Give your grandchild time to talk to you about their life, especially things they’re finding hard to discuss with other people.
They are talking to you because they feel safe, they know they will be heard and they want a grandparent's input.
If they don’t feel like talking, just spending time together might be enough.
A lot of times, this is what is needed - TIME; it's perhaps something that Mum and/or Dad isn't in a position to give - not because they don't want to but because they are already stretched to their limit and are trying their hardest not to break.
Tell your grandchild stories about yourself when you were growing up, or tales of how different things used to be in the ‘old days’. This is especially good for kids who live far away from their extended family, as it can help them feel connected.
Remember that your grandchild is an individual – just because you might enjoy the same activities doesn’t mean that they will too! So don’t be disappointed if they want to do something else.
If your grandchild wants some time away from you, try not to take it personally. Reassure them that they can always come and see you again. Even if it’s been a while since you last met, pick up where things left off (and remember to tell them how much you love seeing them!)
What are the benefits of having a close bond with your grandchildren?
Being a grandparent is an incredibly privileged position to be in - if you're doing it right, you get the vast majority of nice bits of parenting without the not-so-nice bits.
You get to dote on your grandkids, spoil them rotten and then hand them back to their parents without any of the messy repercussions. Grandparenting FTW!
In addition to being able to spend time with those adorable, intelligent bundles of joy without having to change a single poopy nappy or do a single load of washing, grandparents also have the chance to share their life experience with their grandchildren.
Parents might not always want to listen - what with being super busy and all - but grandparents can give insights about the world that kids' parents just don't have.
The parent-grandparent (even great-grandparent) dynamic can be a difficult one to navigate - something that could play a part in the relationship between grandchild and grandparent. Whilst grandparents are often doting and spoiling, they also have the opportunity to be a little more relaxed than the child's parents.
This can be a refreshing change for kids who might be used to their parents' more regimented way of life.
It can also offer a different perspective on things, which can be really interesting for children.
Unfortunately, this can also cause discord within the family - it's amazing how quickly a grown adult can revert to child-like behaviours/reactions when it's coming from their own parents.
Ultimately, the bond between a grandparent and their grandchild is one that's built on love. The earliest interactions are often driven by parents, but as kids get older, they start to want to spend time with grandparents in different ways.
It's something that may take some adjusting for both sides - parents might be used to being 'number one' in their child's life whereas grandparents have had years of being someone else's most significant person - but it doesn't take too much effort to try and build an equally strong relationship with everyone involved.
It's no secret that the bond between a grandparent and their grandchildren is one of love.
However, in order to maintain this love, it takes time and effort from both sides - parents might be used to being 'number one' in their child's life whereas grandparents have had years of being someone else's most significant person.
It doesn't take too much effort to try and build an equally strong relationship with everyone involved by trying your best not to infringe on anyone’s space or feelings.
What are your thoughts?
Do you/your child have a close relationship with your grandparents?
Let us know in the comments below!