By Joanie Holm, R.N., C.N.P.
A three-pound baby entered the world in recent days. This precious child was born after his Mom spent seven weeks in the hospital on bedrest. At home, Dad and two siblings were working, going to school, and worrying. Surrounding the family were two sets of grandparents who ensured that the pieces all fell into place. From meals and lawn care, to virtual school, from evening shifts and overnights to early mornings, these grandparents were there every step of the way. They will continue to offer support while the baby remains hospitalized and growing, and after he comes home, because that is what grandparents do, if they are able.
Grandparenting can be an awesome stage in life, benefitting the grandchildren, the parents, and of course the grandparents in significant ways. Grandparents are known to influence values and behaviors and provide valuable life experiences. A child who has a connection with grandparents may have increased self-esteem, with better emotional and social skills. A relationship with a grandparent can give a child strength and comfort into adulthood.
In an article titled “Why Grandparents are VIPs,” social researcher, educator and author, Susan V. Bosak writes, “The special kind of love you get from a grandparent is a love you can't get anywhere else. It is an important kind of love – in fact, a very important kind of love. Parents have to worry about who children will become in the future; their role is to be providers and disciplinarians. Grandparents can just enjoy children for who they are in the moment. The love of a grandparent is often freer, more unconditional, and far less psychologically complex than a parent's love. The love of a parent and the love of a grandparent are different, second in emotional importance only to the parent/child relationship.”
In a world of many dual-career families, the benefits of active grandparents can be lifesaving for parents. Often grandparents fill in the gap between school and the time parents get off work, driving kids to different events or helping them with homework.
Lastly, active grandparents report less depression and a higher degree of life satisfaction and a hopeful feeling for the future.
Margaret Mead, a well-known American cultural anthropologist, said the connection between generations was “essential for the mental health and stability of a nation.”
This Thanksgiving, may we celebrate the grandparent-grandchild relationship with gratitude.
Joanie S. Holm, R.N., C.N.P. is co-founder and president of Healing Words Foundation that supports Prairie Doc® programming. Follow The Prairie Doc® at www.prairiedoc.org and on Facebook featuring On Call with the Prairie Doc® a medical Q&A show providing health information based on science, built on trust for 21 Seasons, streaming live on Facebook most Thursdays at 7 p.m. central.