Grandparents play an Important Role in the Lives of Children

I remember the glory days of our kids’ early childhood

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I can vividly recall the Christmas that Nana and Pa presented two-year-old Justine with a giant fluffy bear bigger than herself; the birthday they gave her the bicycle with trainer wheels; the time Pa wrapped his arms around six-year-old Daniel and taught him how to swing a golf club and how they tinkered in the shed together.

Then when Jussy started school and we were working late, she would stay with Nana and Pa every afternoon and Nana would make her a “happy plate” and she would sit on Pa’s lap for a story or they’d giggle together at the cartoons. The reliable ritual was a refuge in her little life. There was no place safer and more fun than Nana and Pa’s cosy lounge room.

Grandparents play an important role in the lives of children. They offer an additional buffer zone of adult security, affection and attention.

When Mum and Dad are tired and cranky and nagging about cleaning up your room, Nana and Pa are soft as butter and just melt at the sight of your cute little face.

Many of them have tons of patience and oodles of time to spare to play games and go places. And the old-fashioned models come with a guarantee of “spoiling.”

Grandparents and great grandparents give children a link to another generation; a sense of their family history; a perspective of the past and a concept of the continuity of life; a respect for old age.

Pressured parents are also fortunate if they have the support of their parents who willingly lend a hand with baby sitting and share in the pleasures and delights of their children.

It is sad for children who miss out on having loving grandparents actively participate in their lives. These experienced adults can have a positive input into kids’ character formation; role-modeling valuable skills and qualities. Our kids would certainly not be as well-rounded without the influence of Nana and Pa.

Likewise, it is sad for grandparents who pass up involvement with their grand kids, preferring immersion in their own interests, because children can bring an enriching dimension to their later years.

And the tragedy for many grandparents and kids is losing that precious relationship when parents divorce. I believe that loving grandparents have a right to continue a relationship with their grandchildren even after family breakdown.

Of course just as not all parents are good for kids, not all grandparents are a positive influence. Some grandparents become caught up in taking sides in a marriage break-up and get into kids’ ears, denigrating the other parent.

It’s important for grandparents to stay neutral in the battle zone and simply provide a refuge. Confused kids will benefit from the stability they offer.

Parents, and society generally, must value grandparents and respect and encourage the important relationship between oldies and kids.

I am now the proud Nana of a beautiful eight-month-old grandson and I'm looking forward to having positive input into his growing up the way my parents did for my children.

Diane Priestley

Engaging storyteller, Prolific Journalist, Empowering People Matters

Hello Psychologies Tribe, Let me introduce myself! I'm an experienced journalist with a career spanning more than 30 years writing for newspapers, magazines and online publications in Australia and the UK. I write about relationships, health and humanitarian issues. I'm a qualified Counsellor and Workshop Facilitator. I moved from Australia to the UK in 2009 and now live near the beach in Folkestone, Kent and part of the year in Kenya doing community work.


I couldn't agree more and its great to see some of the benefits spelled out…I am very much experiencing these for my daughter, but didn't have my own grandparents around in this way when growing up. However, it is possible to cultivate these relationships in other figures - older child minders that become part of the family and aunties etc. This is what my mum did for us and I'm still appreciative of that.
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almost 7 years ago
Thanks for your comment Maya. Great to know that your daughter is enjoying the benefits of involved, loving grandparents. Yes, fully agree it's possible to cultivate other "grandparent figures" for children in the absence of actual grandparents, if they have sadly passed away or not living close. Being surrounded by loving, encouraging adults is what's essential to children as they grow up.