Playtime helps bind generations

Feb 14, 2011
A new study has confirmed an old adage: a family that plays together stays together. Credit: Concordia University

A new study has confirmed an old adage: A family that plays together stays together. Researchers from Concordia University and Wilfrid Laurier University examined the ways grandparents can maintain close ties with their adult grandchildren. True to the old maxim, recreation emerged as the glue sealing intergenerational bonds.

"Leisure is vital in the formation of bonds that last from generation to generation," says lead author Shannon Hebblethwaite, a professor in Concordia University's Department of Applied Human Sciences. "Shared allows and their to establish common interests that, in turn, enable them to develop strong intergenerational relationships."

Published in Relations: Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Studies, the study builds on previous research that found healthy intergenerational connections help grandparents age better and feel more positively about life. "The study of intergenerational bonds in adult grandchildren is relatively new," says Hebblethwaite. "Little attention has been paid to this relationship, yet grandparenting will become increasingly relevant as North America's population ages."

This new study is among the first to examine a cohort of grandchildren and their grandparents. "Most studies look into parenting, children or seniors. Few have examined how leisure contributes to the bonds between adult grandchildren and grandparents in the same family."

Gardening with grandma

Sixteen retired or semiretired grandparents, aged 65 to 89, took part in the investigation as well as 14 grandchildren aged 18 to 24. Occasions that typically brought generations together included vacations, holiday celebrations, cooking, shopping and gardening.

Grandparents often use such get-togethers as opportunities to teach, mentor and pass on legacies. "They share family histories, personal experiences and life lessons," says Hebblethwaite. "They pass on family values, traditions and stressed the importance of family cohesion."

Although finding common interests between generations can pose a challenge – i.e. should Katy Perry or Elvis Presley be the soundtrack for a road trip? – participants stressed how joint activities allowed them to learn from each other. "One young man recalled his initial resistance to baking pies with his grandmother, but he ended up being a great chef," observes Hebblethwaite.

Exchanging with youth can be a catalyst for discovery among seniors as well. "Some grandparents learned about email, video-conferencing or technology through their grandchildren to stay connected with them," she says. "Sharing of knowledge during such leisure pursuits is what allows grandparents and grandchildren to develop strong bonds."

Forging strong ties with the matriarch or patriarch of a clan is beneficial for grandchildren, too, and can sharpen their sense of empathy, says Hebblethwaite. "After being doted on as kids, adult grandchildren have an opportunity to shift that dynamic and give back to their grandparents."

Explore further: Physicists create tool to foresee language destruction impact and thus prevent it

More information: "Expressions of Generativity Through Family Leisure: Experiences of Grandparents and Adult Grandchildren," published in Family Relations: Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Studies, was authored by Shannon Hebblethwaite of Concordia University and Joan Norris of Wilfrid Laurier University.

Provided by Concordia University

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Grandma and grandpa are good for children

Jun 04, 2008

The first national survey about the relationships that adolescents have with their grandparents shows that grandparents who are involved in the upbringing of their grandchildren can contribute to a child’s ...

Grandparents favor genetically close grandchildren

Apr 29, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- New research suggests that grandparents naturally and subconsciously favor the grandchildren who are most closely related to them genetically. The phenomenon is called "sexually antagonistic ...

Recommended for you

Affirmative action elicits bias in pro-equality Caucasians

18 hours ago

New research from Simon Fraser University's Beedie School of Business indicates that bias towards the effects of affirmative action exists in not only people opposed to it, but also in those who strongly endorse equality.

Election surprises tend to erode trust in government

Jul 24, 2014

When asked who is going to win an election, people tend to predict their own candidate will come out on top. When that doesn't happen, according to a new study from the University of Georgia, these "surprised losers" often ...

Awarded a Pell Grant? Better double-check

Jul 23, 2014

(AP)—Potentially tens of thousands of students awarded a Pell Grant or other need-based federal aid for the coming school year could find it taken away because of a mistake in filling out the form.

User comments : 0