Effects of grandparents' involvement
From an article by the Institute of Family Studies
About half of all grandparents, both in the U.S. and Europe, provide some kind of childcare to their grandchildren.
In UK, about 3% of households with dependent children have a grandparent as head of household and their children living with them (2017 ONS). In a small percentage (less than half a percent), the grandparents are the primary carers.
In the USA, as of 2011, one in ten American kids actually lived with a grandparent (or two). Four in five of them also have at least one parent in the household, and four in ten are cared for primarily by their grandparent(s). Children in households with income below or close to the poverty line are more likely than non-poor children to live with or be cared for by a grandparent, and black, Hispanic, and Asian children are more likely to live with a grandparent than white children.
How does caring for grandchildren affect grandparents? Caring for children at an older age can be stressful and reduce the amount of time grandparents have to exercise, spend time with friends, and maintain their other relationships. On the other hand, some grandparents find it rewarding and report that it makes them healthier and more active. For grandparents caring for grandchildren in the absence of the parents, especially if their resources are limited, caregiving is more likely to have a detrimental impact. In a separate domain - cognitive function - grandparents who babysit but are not primary caregivers for their grandchildren appear to benefit slightly from their caregiving roles
Grandchildren seem to benefit from their grandparents’ care, even if they also have good relationships with their parents. In tougher situations—with a depressed or divorced parents, for instance—grandparents play a “buffering” role, compensating for an absent parent (or two) or lessening the impact of such stressors. Grandchildren continue to benefit into early adulthood: closeness to grandparents reduces depressive symptoms among young adults.
Grandparents’ ability and willingness to care for grandchildren also, unsurprisingly, affects those children’s parents. In areas where childcare is expensive, grandparents are a crucial source of help to working parents. Particularly for single parents of young children, a reliable grandparent may be the difference between holding down a steady job and working only sporadically for lack of childcare. Grandparents also shape the labour force participation of married mothers, who presumably have both greater financial resources and fewer time constraints than single ones.
There's good news for grandparents who want more grandchildren. Providing emotional support and childcare help to their adult sons and daughters may make them more likely to have another child, according to a study of four European countries. That’s particularly true, the researchers say, “when a family’s socioeconomic situation and the broader environment are generally favourable for having several children,” in which case involved grandparents may “provide the ‘extra push’ that supports the intention to have another child.”
Read the full article here.
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