The purpose of the study was to identify ways in which relationships between grandparents and grandchildren can be influential especially given that people are living longer and these special kinds of relationships are not only becoming more common but are seeming to last longer than in previous generations. Specifically, researchers wanted to see if a close relationship could positively affect depressive symptoms. Turns out these relationships do!
The study used a sample size of 374 grandparents and 356 grandchildren who were observed from 1985 through 2004.
“For both grandparents and adult grandchildren, greater affinity reduced depressive symptoms and more frequent contact increased symptoms,” the study reads. “For grandparents only, receiving functional support without also providing it increased depressive symptoms.”In other words, helping each other in a give and take relationship is the most powerful form and beneficial to both grandparent and grandchild. But there was a downside to this.“The average grandparent–adult grandchild relationship is a source of both support and strain to both generations,” researchers noted in the study.Interestingly, the study collected data that showed that relationships between grandparents and grandchildren tend to change over time in a predictable way. When grandchildren are young, the relationship tends to be strong and bonds are formed. When grandchildren become young adults, they tend to be less involved with their grandparents and in some cases not involved at all. But like a curve, most grandchildren would eventually become more involved with the grandparents once they reached adulthood, changing their relationship to one that is more closely related to a “friendship based on unconditional love.”So, the next time grandma and grandpa want to plan for a visit, know that every bit of bonding time between them and your children is good for everyone’s health.
Sarah Cottrell is a Maine based freelance journalist and lifestyle writer. Her work has been featured on VICE Tonic, New York Magazine, Washington Post, and has been included in seven anthologies including the New York Times bestselling series, I Still Just Want to Pee Alone. Check out her work at sarahcottrellfreelance.com and visit her on Facebook and Instagram.