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The importance of grandparents in a child’s life is undeniable.

A high level of grandparent involvement in a child's upbringing increases their well-being. With changing family patterns, increased life expectancy, growing numbers of dual-worker households and higher rates of family breakdown, grandparents are now playing an increasing role in their grandchildren's lives. However, many are not.

Many grandparents are excluded from their grandchildren’s lives or not allowed to spend time with them. I am saddened everyday by the lack of time grandparents are allowed with their grandchildren. To not spend time with them because of distance or illness is one thing; denied time is awful but denied time for one and not another is just abhorrent. At its heart, estrangement from grandchildren reflects estrangement from adult children, the gatekeeper middle generation that can promote or deny access.

There are countless research studies and supporting statistics that highlight the many benefits that come from strong parent-child bonds. What isn’t always recognised, however, is the positive impact that a close relationship between a grandparent and grandchild can have on the happiness and wellbeing of the entire family. Simply put, having grandparents around is good for everyone. A healthy connection between a grandchild and his or her grandparent is beneficial to both sides of the relationship, and here’s some reasons why:

Grandparents truly impact their grandchildren’s lives.

Studies show that as many as 9 out of 10 adult grandchildren feel that their grandparents influenced their beliefs and values; I certainly was one as The Adventures of Poppy and Lord Ted; The First Summer demonstrates. A child’s perspective of what constitutes a healthy, normal relationship is shaped by the relationship that he or she holds with a grandparent. Through regular contact, a sense of emotional intimacy, and unwavering support, children can experience what a true, positive relationship should look like.

Grandparents can greatly reduce household stress.

A recent study found that “an emotionally close relationship between grandparent and grandchild is associated with fewer symptoms of depression for both generations.” For kids, having grandparents around means having the perfect companions to play with and have fun. Grandparents are some of the best partners when it comes to using creativity and imagination to discover the wonders of life. And in turn, most grandparents truly love their role; 72% of grandparents think being a grandparent is the single most important and satisfying thing in their life and I agree. Grandparents have a whole host of skills and wisdom that they share with their grandchildren. And they make the most patient teachers.

Grandparents have a great amount of experience.

Grandparents are a valuable resource because they have so many stories and experiences from their own lives to share. Oftentimes children will listen to grandparents even when they are not listening to their parents or other adults. Grandparents also offer a link to a child’s cultural heritage and family history and our family history is an exciting tale to tell with relatives all around the world. Children understand more of who they are and where they come from through their connection with their grandparents.

Grandparents provide a sense of security.

Especially during tough times, having an extra layer of support can make a big difference in a child’s life. Studies have shown that close grandparent-grandchild relationships during the teenage years are associated with less behavioural and emotional problems and fewer social difficulties with peers. Grandparents offer an extra ear when kids need someone to talk to, because sometimes children just find it easier to open up and share their difficulties and problems with their grandparents.

Because they are free from doling out discipline Grandparents hold a unique position. They can listen to their grandchildren without judgment, criticism or without having to lay down the law.

Grandparents offer childcare option.

With both parents in many families working outside of the home, it is oftentimes the grandparents that play a vital role in raising today’s youth. If they are willing and able, having a grandparent act as either an occasional babysitter or childcare provider gives many parents a great sense of comfort knowing that they are leaving their children in capable and caring hands.

“What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humour, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.”

Rudy Giuliani

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