Positive Childhood – Grandparents

Welcome to the Positive Childhood Grandparents page supported this month by the ICA.

We think that Grandparents are such an important part of your childhood that we had to include them in our campaign and to explore some of the fun and important things that Grandparents do for your children.

What Parents Think

We did a mini survey of Mykidstime parents asking them how involved their parents were in their children's lives.  Here's what some of them had to say:

"My parents are lifesavers, they mind my kids 8.30-4.30 mon to fri with the very odd evening thrown in for cinema nite. They did this even when both did shift work but both are retired now, in a way, from work. The in laws get visited weekly too."

"We're American Expats living in Ireland for the last 5 years. We have a toddler and just brought home twins. No family around at all. We skype every weekend but that's it. If we were back "home", or they were here, they'd be a constant in our children's lives. Alas, it's just the two of us and no one else to help out."

"My mother in law is fantastic, comes over every second day and the kids love her to bits. My parents SKYPE almost every day from Sydney, so the kids still see them every day and tell them what they were up to, plus when we go to oz for Xmas this year they won't be standoffish because it is like they share breakfast with us, even though they haven't physically seen them in 18 months"

"We are so blessed on both side we live right next door to my inlaws so we see them every day and my own parents only live 8 miles away. Both sets are brilliant at babysitting and helping out and when you have three kids that's really helpful. I really don't know how people manage with no family living near by. We are one of the lucky families."

"My parents see my two daughters every weekend, my dad comes and collects us on a Friday when school has finished and brings us home on a Sunday evening, they try to be involved as much as possible"

"My parents (mother) has looked after my kids since they were babies and I went back to work at 3 months on 1st child and 8 months on 2nd. My mother gives my 2 breakfast weekday mornings, dresses my little one and drops my 6 yr old to school and 2 half yr old to playschool 3 mornings and collects them. I would be lost without them. As my dad works himself he only sees them every few days but always makes time for them no matter what. They adore my parents."

Why is this issue important?

Not surprisingly, research confirms how important grandparents are for their grandkids.  The Growing Up in Ireland Study shows that Grandparents are important sources of support and influence for children and their parents. Grandparent involvement with grandchildren is also positively associated with well-being and satisfaction for grandparents.

Two themes emerged in children’s descriptions of their grandparents:

First, grandparents were primarily characterised as informal providers of childcare. Grandparents were frequently involved in children’s daily routine and looked after them after school.  Having regular contact fostered close relationships with grandparents.

Secondly, in addition to being involved in daily care-giving routines, grandparents were also identified as sources of fun and companionship. 

These findings highlight the role that grandparents play in buffering families from stress, by caring for and nurturing grandchildren and thereby supporting parents in their parenting role. For the majority of children, grandparents represented positive influences in their lives.

Things Grandparents & Grandkids can do together

We have put together two little projects that we hope you will enjoy doing together.

Project 1 – Interview your Grandparent

Grandparents, ask your grandchild to interview you about your childhood.   Grandkids, ask your nanna or pappa if you can interview them about their childhood.

There are 4 questions we would like answered:

  1. What was your favourite toy as a child?
  2. What was your favourite game to play as a child?
  3. What memories do you have of celebrating a birthday as a child?
  4. What was your favourite meal as a child?

Submit your answers here and tell us a little about yourself and your grandchild, and if you have a scanned photo of yourself as a child we would love to see that too.

Here are some interviews that were broadcast on RTE Junior last year to listen to:

Listen to Issy & Carmel. Issy is 8 and her granny Carmel is from Harcourt Street in Dublin.

Listen to Emma & Maurice. Emma is 7 and her granddad Maurice is from Wexford.

Listen to Aoife & Michael. Aoife is 11 and her grandad Michael is from Cork.

Project 2 – Pass on a Skill

We want you to have fun with your grandchild teaching them something that you know well and learned yourself when you were younger.

Or maybe your grandchild can teach you a technology skill that they have learned.

For example,

– teach them how to knit or crochet,

– show them how to make scones or another favourite recipe, or any other thing that you enjoy doing and would like to show them

– they could show you how to send an email or how to scan a photograph on the computer.

Then submit a photo of the thing you did or made together here and tell us a little about yourself. 

What are your thoughts on the role of grandparents for children?  Tell us in the comments below

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Jill is one of the co-founders of Mykidstime and a mum of 2 girls