If you’ve got grandkids, it could do some good to take part in their lives. A solid relationship with grandchildren appears to increase health and longevity.
Your children may have pointed out that since you became a grandparent, there’s been a twinkle in your eye that they certainly did not see growing up. That might be because grandchildren are special—they are family members you can love without the same responsibility of parents. It’s a unique bond that some grandparent’s and grandchildren swear by.
Research backs this up as well. There are studies showing that grandparents who spend quality time with their grandchildren live longer and retain higher levels of cognitive function compared to those with limited or no relationship with grandkids—to a point.
The sweet spot for grandparent/grandchild interaction seems to be around once or twice per week. The circumstances are also better when quality is prioritized. Taking in activities with your grandchild, showing interest in their lives, and sharing an active reciprocal relationship yields superior results to simply coming over every day to sit downstairs while the kids play. In other words, the interaction must be meaningful.
Too much interaction with the grandkids can also pose problems, especially when the grandparent is relied on as the primary caregiver. Research has shown that grandparents who provide an “additional 10 hours per month” are more likely to experience depressive symptoms, insomnia, fatigue, and chronic pain. The health benefits are noted when the relationship takes on the role of friendship and not as another parent.
If your family lives close by, consider making an effort to spend time with your grandchildren once or twice per week. Going out for a walk, flying a kite, teaching them a family trade or recipe, or supporting their team or club can all help build a relationship that may improve mental and physical health, as well as longevity.