A new European study discovers grandparents play a significant role in both a parent’s decision to have additional children and the well-being of the grandchildren.
As discussed in his doctoral dissertation, Antti O. Tanskanen, Ph.D., determined grandparents’ assistance with child care and emotional support are linked to mothers’ willingness to have a second or a third child.
Tanskanen also found that when parents of small children receive support from paternal grandparents, they were more like to have additional children.
Another finding suggested participation by maternal grandparents in the lives of their grandchildren led to few emotional and behavioral problems.
However, in some instances grandparent involvement was not beneficial.
Researchers determined that when grandparents were the primary source of child care for children between the ages of nine months and three years, the child was more likely to be overweight than children who primary source of child care is their own parent.
This indicates that grandparents’ tendencies to invest in their grandchildren can also result in unintentional, negative consequences.
The study included the review of extensive surveys from eight European countries: France, Norway, Bulgaria, Lithuania, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Tanskanen believes the study shows that at least in Europe, grandparents continue to be an integral part of the family. However, policymakers often fail to acknowledge the significant role of grandparents on family dynamics.
Tanskanen hopes the study will result in new family policies that recognize the role of grandparents.
Source: University of Eastern Finland