Grandmothers are key to grandchildren’s wellbeing
The Sector > Research > Grandmothers are key to grandchildren’s wellbeing

Grandmothers are key to grandchildren’s wellbeing

by Freya Lucas

April 29, 2024

Investment from maternal grandmothers can  improve the wellbeing of grandchildren who have  faced adversities in life, with the positive effects lasting well into adulthood, researchers from the University of Turku have found


Evolutionary biology suggests that grandparental investment in raising grandchildren has developed as a result of natural selection to give offspring a better chance of survival in challenging environments. 


However, there has been little research done on the extent of the positive impact of grandparental investment on the development of grandchildren, and the results have been mixed. 


The study is based on data from a survey of 1,197 English and Welsh adolescents aged 11–16 years.


Emotional and physical investment by maternal grandmothers is likely to reduce emotional and behavioural problems in children resulting from adverse childhood experiences such as the death of a loved one, or the presence of substance abuse within the home. 


These investments may take the form of providing care for children, financial assistance for the family, or even time spent engaging in enjoyable activities. 


Interestingly, researchers found that support given by other grandparents did not have an equivalent effect. 


“The results show that support given by maternal grandmothers can improve the well-being of children who have experienced adversities in life. The positive effects could be expected to last into adulthood,” Senior Researcher Samuli Helle said.


“The effects of adversities during the sensitive periods of development in childhood can last long into adulthood. They can manifest in adulthood, for example, in a higher risk of premature death and a lower likelihood of having children,” Helle added.   


Access the findings here

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