Do Grandparents matter? The impact of grandparenting on the well being of children : Summary report
This timely and important report shows the immense value of grandparents in 21st century family life. It reveals a unique relationship that exists between the older generation and the youngest: a relationship of love and trust that enables the children to use their grandparents as confidantes and counsellors as well as playmates and cookery instructors. The report shows that children value the non-critical support, emotional advice and guidance that grandparents offer and enjoy the quality time their grandparents give them. It also found that the relationship has benefits for grandparents adding to their raison d’être and contributing to their health and longevity. The report also notes the change in the nature of family relationships in Britain throughout the 20th century, from the extended family to the nuclear family to the current variety of relationships, formal and informal, in which both the elderly and the young suffer neglect. With today’s increased incidence of divorce and family breakdown, grandparents can sometimes provide the only stable family relationship in a child’s life, and yet grandparents often lose contact with their grandchildren during or after a divorce or relationship breakup and have no legal rights through the Family Court to continue offering loving care and support to their grandchildren. The report concludes that there is need for much greater understanding of the role and function of grandparents in family life today.