When you have finished raising your children, and they have children of their own, the fun begins. Finally, you are able to enjoy your time. As a parent, you had to care for your children and be the disciplinarian. As a grandparent, your only job is to spoil your grandchildren when they come over. After they wear you out for a while, they go home, and you can enjoy the peace and quiet. Being a grandparent can be wonderful. You get all of the hugs, kisses, and the love, and none of the hassle and responsibility.
The Go-To Caregiver
When the parents have some place to go, the grandparents are often the go-to caregivers. Parents trust their children with their parents because they have already raised children. Best of all, parents know exactly who they are leaving their children with since they were the ones who raised the parents, to begin with. Some parents feel a bit guilty asking their parents to watch their children, but they shouldn’t. If your children ask you to babysit, there is a reason that you should say yes. Babysitting your grandchildren improves your life expectancy, according to science.
Evolution and Human Behavior
The study was published in the journal, Evolution, and Human Behavior. One of the authors of the study was Sonja Hilbrand, a doctoral student in the department of psychology at the University of Basel in Switzerland. She believed that caring for your grandchildren could improve your life expectancy, so she decided to perform a study to prove her theory. Sonja gathered a team together to plan out and execute the research. The results were pretty shocking.
Sonja gathered 500 people who were willing to take part in the study. They were all 70 years of age or older. Half of the participants took care of their grandchildren when their parents went out, and the other half didn’t. These grandparents only saw their grandchildren when their children brought them over to visit. The study took a while due to a large number of participants. Sonja decided that in order to get correct data, she needed a large study group and plenty of time.
The results of the study showed that people who didn’t care for their grandchildren had an average life expectancy of only four years after the study ended. The grandparents who cared for their grandchildren on a regular basis lived an additional ten years after the study was complete.
Sonja believes that the reason that the grandparents who cared for their children lived longer because older people have a purpose when they care for their grandchildren regularly. According to Sonja, “this link could be a mechanism deeply rooted in our evolutionary past when help with childcare was crucial for the survival of the species.” She also believes that people who have no contact with their grandchildren can see their health actually negatively impacted.
Bruno Arpino is an associate professor at Barcelona’s Pompeu Fabra University, and he agrees with Sonja’s study. He believes that caring for their grandchildren can help seniors stay physically and mentally active. He says, “Caregiving may give caregivers a purpose of life because they feel useful for the other and for the society. Caregiving may also be thought of as an activity that keeps caregivers physically and mentally active. Both experts agree that when grandparents feel needed when they get that call to babysit, it gives them a purpose in life. This purpose will help them to live longer.
Sonja says that taking care of grandchildren from time to time can improve cognitive function and mental and physical health. She says that the study didn’t include grandparents who have full-time custody of their grandchildren. For those who do have full custody, it can be detrimental. Taking care of children full-time puts enormous strain on the elderly, both mentally and physically. This can actually lower the grandparents’ life expectancy. Taking care of children is a difficult job, that requires a great deal of energy. Most elderly people just don’t have this kind of mental or physical energy any longer. Caring for children full-time can quickly wear their grandparents out; therefore, giving grandparents full-time custody isn’t always the best option.
n’t Feel Guilty
The next time you pick up the phone and call your parents or your in-laws to babysit your children, you shouldn’t feel guilty. Asking them to watch your children occasionally can actually extend their lives. Asking your children’s grandparents to babysit isn’t only good for them and their life expectancy, it is also great for your children. Most kids love to go to grandma and grandpa’s house because there, they get spoiled. Asking the grandparents is great for everyone involved.