“Perfect love sometimes doesn’t reach the first grandchild,” says a Welsh proverb. And the truth is that when a grandfather or grandmother sees their grandchild for the first time, they feel a series of indescribable emotions.

Love has many facets and it is great to discover at this stage in life that you can still experience new emotions with great intensity. This discovery gives them new energy. And soon the child will find that his grandfather is his best friend and teacher of life. This is when a very special relationship is created that leaves an emotional mark that lasts forever .

Enthusiasm, gratitude, and a little concern

When grandparents take their grandchild for the first time, the first thing they experience is often deep gratitude. Gratitude that everything has gone well and you can hug that little creature that you already know will revolutionize your world.

With the wisdom that gave them life, they know that they have to remain vigilant because even for parents the arrival of the baby is a very special moment. But they can still be available if needed, to provide support when needed, and to give advice when requested.

With joy and excitement comes a little concern. Grandparents are aware of the challenge of raising a child, so it is normal for them to worry about all the challenges that parents will face with the arrival of the newborn. However, they should know that their children can count on their support, guidance and wisdom.

In fact, the mother-daughter relationship was seen to improve when a child is born, because the grandmother discards her role as mother to find a new role, that of friend and mentor to her daughter, thus elevating the relationship to a higher level. Suddenly, her daughter begins to realize all the sacrifices her mother has made, and understands the enormous love she is experiencing, so normally their relationship improves, becomes more solid and can finally understand what they have done. her parents for her.

They will have to reinvent their identity

The new generation of grandparents is far enough away from the classic image of the grandmother who stays in the kitchen and the grandfather goes to pick up the grandchildren from school. Today’s grandparents are much more active, but even so, this new role implies the need to rebuild their identity.

The arrival of the first grandchild means that from then on they will also be grandparents, which will lead to a restructuring of their “self”. Some people may suddenly feel “older” and may have a difficult time assuming the new role.

But those who positively embrace change rebuild a richer identity, so they feel a greater sense of well-being, develop a new purpose in their lives, and begin to feel more accomplished. There are also many grandparents who feel renewed with the arrival of their grandchild, they feel they have more strength and energy.

In fact, today most people become grandparents in their fifties, a period in life when many have fallen behind the “tyranny of duty” described by Karen Horney to follow their wishes. At this stage, the desire to impress others remained reversed and they began to live more fully, so many grandparents assumed the new role in a pleasant way, with a much more relaxed attitude, wisdom and a more open mind than when they were fathers.

Grandchildren, a second chance to try calmly and conscientiously

The magic of grandparents lies in the fact that they do not need to assume the role of parents. They know what it is to raise a baby, but they are also aware that their role is to accompany children during their growth, transmit their wisdom and support them in the most difficult moments.

Grandparents listen and give good advice, they have time to listen to the problems of their grandchildren, they allow them to be themselves without punishing them, cultivate their illusion and nurture complicity. Their job is to build an emotional bond that still serves the grandchildren, so they often intervene with their parents as well, knowing that there is nothing so serious that it cannot be resolved with love and understanding.

Grandparents know that every moment counts, they know that the time they spend with their grandchildren is limited, so they try to make it as pleasant as possible. Grandparents know, like anyone else, how to take advantage of the here and now. And the children perceive it, then they too enjoy this full presence.

Grandparents and grandchildren: a win-win relationship

The contact of grandparents with grandchildren is very beneficial for the elderly because it not only reduces the risk of falling into depression but also of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia. A study by Cowan University, in which 500 seniors were analyzed, found that grandparents who were actively involved in caring for their grandchildren lived an average of five years longer than those who had no grandchildren.

This is because grandchildren not only keep their grandparents physically active, but mentally as well. Also, having to “deal” at times with your grandchildren encourages them to take care of themselves as well.

Of course, the grandchildren also benefit from this special relationship. A study at the University of Oxford found that of the 1,515 children and adolescents interviewed, those who were closely related to their grandparents reported a greater sense of well-being.

The psychologists found that the key was that grandparents often cushioned the impact of adverse events on their grandchildren’s lives, helping them calm down and see problems from a different perspective. This indicates that grandparents are a source of stability and resilience that children and adolescents do not always find in their parents.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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