Grandfathers Get Better With Age
November 6, 2012

Grandparents Take Active Roles In Grandchildren’s Lives

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

A study from the University of Stavanger (UiS) in Norway recently revealed that, while Europeans spent a great amount of time with their grandchildren, grandfathers have greater involvement with grandkids after the age of 70.

The research project was conducted by Knud Knudsen, a Norwegian sociologist who has four grandchildren between the ages of one and 11 years of age.

“Europeans with grandchildren generally opt to spend a good deal of time with them,” explained Knudsen, a 67-year-old professor of sociology at UiS, in a prepared statement. “And grandfathers appear to be more involved than before.”

Knudsen described his active involvement in the lives of his grandchildren, ranging from care after school and activities on the weekend.

“It provides new insights and instructive challenges, and gives more meaning to life,” noted Knudsen in the statement.

With over 5,500 grandparents from 11 different European countries participating in the study, Knudsen was able to survey the population of males and females between the ages of 60 to 85 on their ageing, health, and retirement.

“We´re likely to see more grandparents spending time with their grandchildren,” commented Knudsen on the study. “The basis for exercising this role can nevertheless differ between the genders.”

Based on the findings, the researchers believe that grandmothers and grandfathers have different interactions with their grandchildren based on their roles. Grandmothers will traditionally have greater contact with a family and have more responsibility to maintain those relationships.

“As a woman, mother and grandmother, norms for caring are clearer for her and she inspires the grandfather. A partner is accordingly important for contributing to the extended family,” remarked Knudsen in the statement. “That applies particularly for men as they get older. In line with other studies of gender and partnership, we see here that men in particular benefit from marriage.”

The team of investigators also proposed that the results of the study are due to demographic and social changes with people sharing more of their lives than before.

“We live longer and stay healthy for more of our lives. We´re better off and communicate more closely,” highlighted Knudsen in the statement. “At the same time, today´s parents are occupied with work and career. Unlike earlier generations, when children came before education and job, modern parents are often older and in full work when they become responsible for offspring.”

Grandparents are helping their children more and more, and it can be a win-win situation for both sides.

“Healthier and fitter grandparents who want to be with their grandchildren can be a big help to careerist parents in a hectic daily life,” added Knudsen in the statement. “At the same time, little has changed where marriage and partnership are concerned. As before, men often marry women who are a few years younger than them.”

It is also possible that grandparents choose to assist with grandchildren, so that they may be supported in their own lives in the future.

“But such arguments are only consistent with certain findings,” commented Knudsen in the statement. “If they were correct, widowed grandmothers would be with the grandchildren most — and that´s not the case.”