I am a very involved Nana with my four grandchildren, taking care of two of them after school one day a week plus sleepovers with all of them at different times. Once a year for sure we take a family vacation with all the children and grandchildren and I relish this precious time together.
This special time with my grandchildren nurtures them and me. It also helps my daughter who works full time as a Principal of a school. There are actually three sets of grandparent’s for my daughter’s children who take an active part in their lives. This gives my daughter, Jessica, peace of mind that her children are well cared for and also saves her some money in today’s expensive world.
Jessica learned about calling on a “village” from her upbringing. Her Dad and I divorced when she was 2 ½ years old. I went back to school to earn my Master’s in Social Work. Through the active involvement of my ex and his wife, I was able to develop a co-parenting relationship that gave Jessica lots of love and care from her parents and helped me have peace of mind knowing she was in a loving environment while I was busy at school. When I eventually remarried, Jessica had four loving parents and gained a brother as well.
My research project for my Master’s in Social Work was on the support systems of divorced single parents. Not surprisingly we learned that the more and better quality supports parents had, the better they did. These supports included family, friends, community centers, religious and spiritual communities and even the children themselves. Going it alone puts too much of a strain on the parents who then feel more challenged with their children.
Fast forward to grandparenthood and we find that, where possible, grandparent involvement with their grandchildren also has a beneficial effect. According to some new research, “A new study shows that grandparents and grandchildren have real, measurable effects on each other’s psychological well-being long into grandchildren’s adulthood.” Once again, the benefit goes both ways for the grandparents and the grandchildren.
While it’s true that not everyone has grandparents who are living, available or close by, we do know that, where possible, calling upon this resource is extremely valuable. According to Mary Gavin, M.D., “Besides modeling what constitutes a “normal” relationship, grandparents provide children with a sense of safety and protection, a link to their cultural heritage and family history, and a companion in play and exploration.”
And, besides all that, it’s lots of fun!