Leading Edge / Winter 2004
Grand Role Models

Grandparents are important emotional guides for adult grandchildren


Just because the grandchildren are now adults, it doesn’t mean they don’t need Grandma and Grandpa.

A survey by Toronto researchers indicates that grandparents are important emotional guides for adult grandchildren. “While the stereotypical image of grandparenting may be of an elderly person nurturing a small child, grandparents are influential as role models who offer friendship, love, moral support and guidance, and teach family values even after their grandchildren become adults,” says Prof. Emeritus Benjamin Schlesinger of U of T’s Faculty of Social Work.

Benjamin and his wife, Rachel Aber Schlesinger, a social sciences professor at York University, surveyed 95 York undergraduates, aged 18 to 30, and found that grandparents helped most often in the area of emotional support, followed by financial assistance (including paying for university fees, travel and housing subsidies). The students described grandparents as “connections to the past,”“role models” and “a buffer to parents.”

The results indicate that grandparents can become pseudo-parents in times of need, act as informal teachers and help their grandchildren through difficult times. “Grandparents are an important link in ongoing family issues,” says Benjamin Schlesinger. “Frequently they are the only permanent link when families face divorce, death or separation.”


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