Grandparents and grandchildren play vital roles in each other’s lives. Recent studies conducted in 2013 by Eileen Malone Beach, Ph.D. and Mikiyasu Hakoyama, Ph.D., professors in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Central Michigan University, have determined that being able to maintain this special intergenerational relationship is good for the health and sense of well-being for not only the grandchild; but also for the grandparent. The data which they derived from interviewing 470 young adults (18-27 yrs) on how they felt about their grandparents during three developmental stages-childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood enabled the researchers to make five (5) suggestions on how to maximize and to sustain a good relationship between generations. Their suggetions are:
1-Get to know your grandchild when he/she is young because this is the time when their sense of self and family is being developed. Being a part of their lives from the very beginning is important.
2-Maintain a good relationship with your grandchild’s parents, your own children, who control access to their child(ren).
3-Do a good job of grandparenting when you are with your grandchild(ren) so that your grandchild and, in turn his/her parents, feels safe and secure about your caregiving skills.
4-Be flexible and willing to adapt to your grandchild’s likes and dislikes
5-Stay healthy and in good shape yourself so that you can maintain an active relationship with your grandchild(ren)
There is also hope for those grandparents who must maintain a long distance relationship with their grandchild(ren). A 2012 study at the University of Delaware School of Nursing conducted by Veronica Rempusheski found that those grandchildren who had frequent phone contact with their grandparents also were able to develop a positive relationship with one another. Utilize technology and become familiar with email, Skype, facebook etc as a way to connect with your grandchild(ren) and to sustain this vital intergenerational relationship.
On another note, Bridges Together is proud to announce that Eileen Malone Beach, Ph.D. will be working with the Bridges Together staff to study the efficacy of the Growing Older, Growing Together programs have in their ability to support and to nurture the intergenerational bonds. In addition, Andrea Weaver will be presenting the Bridges Together program in January 2014 at Central Michigan University.
This was adapted from an article on Huff Post – Post 50 by Susan Krauss Whitborne. Read the complete article here.