Distance makes the heart grow less fond for far-away grandparents

Survey shows living an hour away prevents close bond with grandchildren

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If you’ve been visiting the grandparents this Bank Holiday weekend, spare them a thought if they seem upset at saying goodbye to their grandchildren.

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A survey by charity Care for the Family shows that 95% of grandparents who live more than an hour away said they wished their grandchildren lived closer to them.

And 75% said that distance prevents them developing a closer bond with their grandkids.

There are around 14 million grandparents in the UK. Nearly half of those surveyed said they saw their own grandparents daily or weekly, while today’s grandparents are most likely to see their grandchildren only once every three months.

More than a third of those surveyed said they thought their most important role as a grandparent was “confidant and source of comfort”, followed by “role model” and “playmate/fun provider”.

Katharine Hill, director of family policy for the charity, said,“Children need their extended family, and grandparents have a unique opportunity to influence the lives of their grandchildren in a positive way.”

Research has shown that spending time with a grandparent is linked with better social skills and fewer behavioural problems

The survey also showed that long-distance grandparents are likely to use of new technology to keep in touch with their grandchildren, such as Skype, Facebook and email.

Care for the Family offers these tips for keeping in touch:

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  • Ask your parents to record stories you can play to your children, an event from their life or a story from your child’s favourite books.
  • Put pictures of your parents around – on a low shelf for younger children, so the get used to how their grandparents look. It’ll make it easier for them when they visit.
  • Ask your parents to make a photo album that includes pictures of their surroundings – home, work, hobbies, and pets. It will help your child to feel they ‘know’ them.
  • With younger children, send their artwork to your parents and ask them to send back a photograph of it on display in their home.
  • Ask your parents to send notes or postcards to your children now and again.
  • Invest time in helping your parents get up to speed with new technology your family uses to keep in touch.

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