An AARP Bulletin recently proposed fifty ways to enhance health and lengthen life. Some fell into the category of “Why would you want to live longer if you had to do that?” Things like eating less, giving up sugar, or moving to California lacked appeal to me. Some gave me an excuse for habits I already hold – drinking that extra cup of coffee, reading, and staying married.
None held a candle to # 33. They conceded that having responsibility for grandchildren every day might be stressful. On the other hand, they suggested that being with grandchildren on a regular basis could lower your risk of dying by a third and add up to five years of life. The researchers speculate that caring for grandchildren gives the grandparent purpose and keeps them mentally and physically active. In the next issue, Lillian Carson, author of The Essential Grandparent, says being with the younger generation literally beefs up the immune system.
On an April 3, 2017 segment of CBS Morning Show, Leslie Stahl said this regular relationship benefitted the grandchildren as well. A vague reference to studies she’d read said children with grandparents were more confident, were not as troublesome at school, and were more rooted in family history. (This could be because grandchildren show interest in the family stories that brought on eye-rolling in their parents.)
We are blessed with ten, yes that’s 10, grandchildren (all brilliant, polite, and hardworking). Until this past August, all of them lived far away – Arizona, Texas, and Maryland. As military brats, our children who are now their parents had traveled long distances to visit their grandparents once or twice a year – or longer if we were out of the country. This lifestyle evidently seemed normal to them.
I’m not even going to guess how many of these helpful statistics our youngest son and his wife knew when they made the decision to move here to Hattiesburg last August. Nor am I going to guarantee than any of these positive outcomes will happen. But I will attest that life is a lot more fun when you see grandchildren more times in a week than you used to see them in a year!
I saw a Facebook meme shortly after I learned all of this. It said, “Grandparents don’t babysit. They have playdates.” I think that’s about right.