The Role of Grandparents and Extended Family

The parent-child relationship is a bond that lasts a lifetime, but other family have important roles to play too--aunts, uncles, cousins, and especially grandparents. The relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren is second in emotional importance only to the relationship between parent and child.

 

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One significant role that grandparents and extended family members play is to provide extra support that children need when parents have to work, care for siblings, or just need a break. This can be sharing in childcare duties or just providing support and guidance.

Healthy relationships with grandparents yield many benefits for children:

  • Someone who offers unconditional love
  • A mentor who can help with problems
  • Kindness, humor, and patience
  • Family traditions
  • Learning about life lessons

It's important for parents and extended family to agree on their role in their children's lives. Grandparents need to remember that they are not the parents and decisions are not theirs to make.

Grandparents and family who live far away can maintain a close relationship by phone calls, writing letters, Skyping, and emailing between visits.