The benefits of a strongly connected and supportive family are well established and hardly surprising.
The benefits of a strongly connected and supportive family are well established and hardly surprising. These benefits extend both to grandchildren and grandparents, with research showing that the existence of a close bond improves both parties' mental health and quality of life. Close grandparent-grandchild relationships are indicative of strong family ties overall, but intergenerational bonds come with additional and distinctive benefits, and, as our length of life increases, these bonds become even more important.
For grandparents, relationships with grandchildren provide a connection with the ideas of a younger generation. Grandparents offer their grandchildren a connection with the past and wonderful stories, along with life wisdom, that can help them navigate their own journey to adulthood.
A study of English children found that close grandparent-grandchild relationships were associated with fewer emotional and behavioural problems and fewer difficulties with peers. For grandparents, involvement with grandchildren may help to keep them mentally sharp. An Australian study found that grandmothers who spent time watching their grandchildren or cared for them for a day a week had even stronger benefits and performed better on cognitive tests than women who either did not have grandchildren or did not spend time with them.
At Mrs Hillary Clinton’s recent Melbourne presentation she was asked what she is doing now, she responded with a big smile: ‘Being a grandmother is the greatest joy and the best job I will ever have. Friends have always told me that would be the case, but I didn't believe it fully until I experienced it for myself.’
Prior to Grandparents' and Special Friends' Day, I asked some of the girls to tell me about their relationship with their grandparents. The following responses are an excellent reminder of how much the girls love their grandparents:
'They come over to our house and they do the best they can for us, all of the time.'
'They take care of you and tell you fun stories.'
'Grandparents never stop helping their families.'
'My grandma bakes amazing cakes and shortbread.'
'I love my grandparents because they always welcome us when we visit them and they give us money!'
'I love them because they are caring and always look out for me.'
'Grandparents like all of your work, everything you do and also your performances, even when you forget a line.'
'They are funny and always listen and are also good at knitting.'
'They are generous and always help their family.'
'They are always there for you when you need them. You can tell them a secret and really trust them to keep it.'
'My Grandma is my second mum.'
Of course, relationships between grandparents and grandchildren are shaped by the larger family context and it is through strong parental and grandparent relationships that the grandchild-grandparent bond is strengthened. The role of parents in enabling and modelling strong connections is invaluable. To this end we thank you for booking your parents or special friends in, facilitating or arranging travel, and for your ongoing role in maintaining the connection between the girls and their grandparents or special friends. We know that the more connected the girls are, the better their lives will be in so many ways.
Mrs Nicole Ginnane
Deputy Principal, Head of Junior School