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Nobody Tells You How to Be a Grammy or Grampy

Neuroscientists used electromagnetic brain scans and heart-rate monitors to find out what makes people happy. They had participants do, look at, or listen to different things, and measured how happy it made them. The top stimuli for creating happiness was smiling.1 What could bring a bigger smile to your face than a giant hug from your grandkids? Is there anything better than seeing your granddaughter walk for the first time? Or your grandson’s solo in the school play? But being a grandparent isn’t always easy. We have some tips to help you get the most out of the grandparent experience, so you can keep smiling all day long.

Being a Grandparent Can Be good for You

Being a grandparent is a blast, but it’s also good for you. An Australian research study showed that grandmothers who spent time watching their grandchildren performed better on cognitive tests than those grandmothers who didn’t, and better than women that didn’t have grandchildren.2 A 20-year research study from 1985 - 2004 found that when grandparents had close, positive relationships with their grandchildren, both groups experienced fewer symptoms of depression. Additionally, this study found that the closer the bond, the less depression was observed.3

Having Strong relationships with grandchildren can help reduce the risks of isolation

More people live alone than ever before—about one-third of Americans older than 65 and half of those over 85.4 Loneliness can increase risk of premature death by 30%, making it as risky as obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day.4 As we get older, our social circles tend to shrink as our peers and relatives move away or encounter health problems. Contrary to that trend, our grandchildren can become a larger part of our lives.5

 

6 Tips for Grandparents

activeRunner

Get active—Younger grandchildren only have one priority in life—playing. To be a fun player, you'll need to run, jump, lift, and get up and down from the floor. The better shape you're in, the more fun you'll have, and the more you'll be able to do with your grandchildren. Here’s how.

 

smileFace

Be encouraging—Kids move towards those who encourage them and move away from those who discourage them. Grandparents with a positive, encouraging attitude who are determined to build strong and lasting relationships with grandkids are most likely to succeed.

 

closeRelationship

Maintain good relationships with your own kids—They’re the gatekeepers to your grandchildren. When you have close relationships with your kids, it’s easier to have close relationships with grandkids.

clock

Bond early—Focus on building strong bonds with grandchildren when they’re young. Research found that grandchildren who felt their grandparents played an important role when they were young also felt close to them when they were older.6

phoneConnected

Stay connected—Proximity is one of the closest predictors of a strong relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. If you live near your grandchildren, try to attend their sporting events, or participate in school activities like grandparents’ day. If you don’t live near your grandchildren, use technology to stay involved. This article outlines need-to-know social media apps for connecting with grandchildren.

bike

Play!—Have a bunch of ideas ready for playtime. Here are 101 boredom-busting ideas.


Don’t Overdo It

Many grandparents enjoy helping out their children and grandchildren, but they be should be careful not to overdo it. A 2015 study revealed that 61% of grandparents financially supported their children, and 54% helped them with errands, housework, home repairs, or child care.7 Even though many like to help out, 30% said providing so much help was “stressful,” and 14% said they were being asked to do “too much.”7

Can Grandparents Help Too Much?

 

StressedGrandparent-656335390

Source: 4 Ways 'Super Grandparents' Can Stress Less, Money, 8/31/16. Most recent data available.

 

If you feel like you’re doing too much, don’t be afraid to say. The family members you’re helping probably don’t want you stressed about because you’re helping too much. Also, beware of helping them out too much financially and putting your own financial future at risk. Look for other ways you can help out, like helping with transportation or homework. 


To summarize, we’ve covered:

  • Being a grandparent can be good for you
  • 6 tips for grandparents
  • Don't overdo it

 

Keep Smiling

Being a grandparent can be one of life’s greatest joys. It’s not without its challenges, but by taking a proactive approach you can be an active, involved, and fun part of your grandkids’ lives. And then everyone will have a reason to smile. 


Next Steps:

  1. Review and apply the six tips on the previous page.
  2. Create a list of fun ideas for playtime with your grandkids. Visit the link in the “Play” tip on previous page for ideas.
  3. Be aware if you’re doing too much to help out your kids and grandkids. 
 

Benefits of Being a Grandparent

Grandparent-653771842web

Sources: Study: Close grandparent-grandchild relationships have healthy benefits, The Boston Globe, 12/14/15; Studies Show Increased Health Benefits to Grandparents, A Place for Mom, 11/17/16. Most recent data available.


Sources:

1Neuroscience Says Doing This 1 Thing Makes You Just as Happy as Eating 2,000 Chocolate Bars, Inc.com, 8/29/17

2Study: Close grandparent-grandchild relationships have healthy benefits, The Boston Globe, 12/14/15. Most recent data available.

3Studies Show Increased Health Benefits to Grandparents, A Place for Mom, 11/17/16. Most recent data available.

4The Epidemic of Loneliness–and How to Combat It, The Wall Street Journal, 4/18/18

5What Keeps Grandparents and Grandchildren Close? verywellfamily.com, 4/6/18

65 Tips For Connecting With Your Grandchildren: The View From Grandchildren, Huffington Post, 6/18/13. Most recent data available.

7Family Support in Graying Societies, Pew Research Center, 5/21/15. Most recent data available.

Links from this article to a non-Hartford Funds site are provided for users' convenience only. Hartford Funds does not control or review these sites nor does the provision of any link imply an endorsement or association of such non-Hartford sites. Hartford Funds is not responsible for and makes no representation or warranty regarding the contents, completeness or accuracy or security of any materials on such sites. If you decide to access such non-Hartford Funds sites, you do so at your own risk. 

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