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Children are kinder when Grandma and Grandpa are involved in their lives

Grandparents love to boast about their grandkids’ accomplishments, and now a new study gives them credit for helping their young grandchildren be a little kinder and – in some cases – a little smarter.

Scholars from Brigham Young University interviewed grandchildren ages 10-14 about their relationship with their grandparents. One year later, the researchers again contacted the 408 adolescents to gather information about their emotional development.

Grandparents’ involvement was related to adolescents developing a greater sense of care and concern for people outside of their immediate group of friends and family.

“The bottom line is that grandparents have a positive influence on their grandkids that is distinct from the effect of the parent-child relationship,” said lead study author Jeremy Yorgason.

None of the youth in this study lived with their grandparents, but some of the parents had received financial help from the grandparents during the study. For kids in single-parent homes, financial assistance from grandparents was associated with higher engagement in school.

“Grandparents sometimes act as the National Guard and help out in a crisis,” Yorgason said. “The kids in single-parent homes may not even know about the financial help, but it’s related to them being more engaged in school.”

The study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Research on Adolescence.

“There are only a handful of studies that have been able to link the grandparent relationship with some grandchild outcome,” Yorgason said. “This is a fairly new arena of research.”

About the Flourishing Families Project

The Flourishing Families Project is a longitudinal, multi-informant, multi-method look at the inner-family life of families with an adolescent child. The project began in 2007 and to date includes five waves of data (including questionnaire and video data) on nearly 700 families from two locations. The project involves dozens of BYU students every year in data collection and provides a unique opportunity for undergraduate student involvement. Scholarly articles by Flourishing Families researchers have been published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Family Psychology, Journal of Early Adolescence, Journal of Research on Adolescence, and Aggressive Behavior.

 

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