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Grandparents enrich the lives of children and help their psychological well-being

Mabel A. Cambero*


Grandparents’ day is celebrated in Argentina, so it is useful to reflect on a role that is becoming increasingly important in modern societies.


Grandparents play a fundamental role in the growth of grandchildren. Photo file.

Grandparenthood is a concept coined by the Argentine psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Paulina Redler in 1980 to name the relationship and role of grandparents with respect to grandchildren, and the psychological effects of the bond, that is, the intrapsychic relationship between the two.

In Argentina, the grandparent’s Day on July 26, ever since. Let’s see a little what happens with grandparents.

Grandparenting refers to a specific link with specific conflicts and with a development process, to which dr. redler names “Grandma Crisis”. Grandparents have the opportunity to resolve this crisis or developmental duel, thanks in part to the fact that they can help grandchildren overcome similar conflicts with the middle generation, their parents.

The importance that the role of grandparent is acquiring today is determined by changes in society, due to the greater longevity achieved in recent decades.

The other significant duel, “the lost bodycan very well be faced when there are real demands for attention and care, since today it can be to be a grandfather many more years and with better health, which gives rise to a greater relationship and coexistence between generations.

The condition of grandparenthood is acquired without looking for it, unlike that of paternity and it is welcomed by the majority, becoming one of the most important events in people’s lives; however, if this stage comes with responsibilities that have to do with the care and education of the grandchildren (which would correspond to the parents) and also in a compulsory way, it can be unrewarding.

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from the point of view of the grandfather, the grandson represents a continuity of his name and his family. The role of grandfather determines a functional relationship when he acts as a caregiver of their grandchild/children at a time when their parents cannot, and will have or will be able to enjoy a different relationship with their grandchildren, at present that tender figure of dedicated grandparents and caregivers may vary, Advances in medicine, as I said before, have offered a better quality of life to older adults; which makes them continue with jobs or tasks with the vitality that was previously applied to the youngest, thus the function is modified, they can be more walking companions than fragile and slow grandparents who only remain seated, this new age group is to be defined…

Grandparents, beyond the affective and functional role they play, they are important for growth, education, objectivity and have the function of transmitters of family history and culture, which is gratifying for the grandchildren and contributes to shaping their personal and family identity. They are also fundamental for the sole fact of being constant figures at their side with a different biological age and with very different forms of treatment: going to the grandparent’s house can be something fun and different from everyday life.

Many children love to be with their grandparents for different reasons: some because at their side there are not so many orders or obligations, doing different things and carrying out activities that make them feel freer. Obviously everything depends on the way of being of the grandparents.

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In general, families in which grandparents can be included are enriched by the intergenerational encounter that takes place at home. When these relationships are not conflictive, they entail exchange, enrichment and satisfaction, since generations need each other and create bonds of interdependence.

On the other hand, the condition of grandparenting does not transform the person, but depending on how they live it can make them feel a pleasant vital expansion since the present, the past and the future are being integrated: life and death. In this sense, the ambivalence of feeling that death itself has been defeated through descendants is produced, while the grandson makes him aware of his old age; This allows you to locate yourself in your grandfather identity. Therefore, grandparenting itself is a relationship not only between the grandfather and his grandchildren, but also between him and himself and with all the other members of the family and social group.

The grandparenting process It’s very important, The debut as a grandparent is a milestone in personal, family and generational development. Through the genes it transcends one’s own offspring, perpetuating personal characteristics. The birth of the first grandchild has a great impact and psychological significance, especially in women, in whom the end of fertility usually coincides with the enriching moment of a new life. It is a complex and multivariate process, in which the relationship with the child is built, over time, through emotions and experiences, based on various factors: biological, psychological and socioeconomic. This process can begin, for example, with the desire, fantasy and experience of the arrival of a grandchild when the child leaves home or forms a couple. Generally seeking compensation for the absence of the descendant who leaves; that moves away, not only from the house, but forms his own life.

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Grandparenthood is, in short, a function of undoubted value in family life. Not having grandparents or not having any contact with them represents an impoverishment in the lives of children, and for grandparents the loss of an important factor of psychological well-being.

.*Psychoanalyst specializing in childhood and adolescence Coordinator of the Labor and Vocational Orientation team and of the reflection workshops for older adults (Liberman Center APdeBA)


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