Adjust the text

Studies: Grandparents are the Best


Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild. – Welsh Proverb

In both Canada and the United States, new studies show that grandparents are proving to be a haven of support for their children and grandchildren.

Grandma, can you spare me a grand?

As the United States struggles with the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, a new study by MetLife Mature Market Institute produced in conjunction with demographer Peter Francese shows grandparents spending large sums of money on:

  • infant food;
  • children’s clothing and equipment;
  • toys, games and tricycles;
  • primary and secondary school tuition; and
  • school supplies.

Other findings from The MetLife Report on American Grandparents: New Insights for a New Generation of Grandparents:

  • today’s grandparents are more likely to be college graduates and employed than at any time in the past;
  • consumer spending of households headed by those ages 55 or older has been rising at rates well above inflation and faster than any other age group;
  • an estimated 4.5 million grandparent-headed households include one or more grandchildren; and
  • by 2020, it is estimated there will be 80 million grandparents in the United States or one in three adults.

Strengthening bonds with adult grandchildren

How do grandparents keep in touch with their grandchildren after they leave home?

A new study by Canadian researchers has found that grandparents use family leisure activities to cement bonds with their adult grandchildren. Shannon Hebblethwaite and Joan Norris reported details of their study in the February 2011 issue of the journal Family Relations.

Both generations engaged in a wide variety of activities including:

  • family vacations;
  • holiday celebrations;
  • cooking;
  • shopping; and
  • gardening.

Grandparents said they used time with their grandchildren to:

  • share personal experiences and life lessons;
  • pass on family stories and a sense of family history;
  • model the importance of family cohesion;
  • teach the "the value of a dollar;" and
  • teach camping, sailing and gardening skills.

According to the study, these leisure activities promoted common interests and fostered a dynamic interplay between the generations with grandparents reporting they learned as much from their grandchildren as they taught.