Growing Up with Grandparents

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It takes a village–and grandparents play an essential part

I was raised in an intergenerational household, which included my three siblings, parents and maternal grandparents. Like every family, we could go from hugs and laughter to drama and meltdowns with the flip of a switch. Still, living with my grandparents was one of the best experiences of my life and shaped me into the woman I am today. 

Because I was raised by four loving adults, I always had someone around to help me—a team cheering me on and a solid foundation in my life. My grandparents were part of the village for my siblings and I, supporting us through challenges and triumphs, guiding us to make wise decisions and loving us unconditionally. 

Looking back, my parents are grateful they had the extra hands to raise four children. It really does take a village! Parenting styles don’t always align, and not seeing eye-to-eye with your parents or in-laws can certainly be frustrating and ruffle a few feathers. However, it’s important to talk about your differences. Have those difficult conversations and try to get on the same page for the sake of the children involved. They deserve the chance to get to know their grandparents, who can be a crucial part of a child’s village as someone to learn from, love and be loved by.  

Understanding the benefits of having grandparents in a child’s life helps parents make informed decisions on what’s best for their little one. Here are the top three benefits to including grandparents in your village:

#1 Less Stress on Parents

Grandparents can take tasks off of a parent’s plate, removing some stress from the parent’s life. While my dad was working hard to provide for our family, Papa stepped in as my second father. He would watch Sesame Street with us, take us to our dentist appointments, split his sandwiches for lunch, even play hair salon with me and my sisters!

It was a huge relief to my parents to know that my siblings and I were being cared for while they were busy. Plus, having my Nana and Papa as a nanny or last-minute babysitter duo meant that my parents could save on childcare costs. Daycare or caregiver services can add up and become a significant expense for families. Care.com’s 2018 Cost of Care Survey found that one-third of American families now spend 20% or more of their annual household income on childcare. Having a solid relationship with grandparents or in-laws can help reduce some of this financial burden while providing your child with even more love.

#2 More Love for the Kids

As grandparents spend more time with their grandchildren, they’ll develop a special relationship, just like the one I had with my grandparents. My Nana and Papa were really present in our lives, so much so that I even called my grandmother “Manana” as a little girl because she was my “mommy-nana”! We fought and loved like mother and daughter, and I often think of her as the love of my life.

Including grandparents in a child’s life gives them more opportunities to develop deep, meaningful relationships. According to an Oxford University study, children who grew up with their grandparents playing an active role in their lives had fewer emotional and behavioral problems. That extra love helps children develop into more resilient adults. 

#3 Learning Valuable Life Lessons

We––my whole family––learned a lot from our time under one roof. Nana and Papa set a beautiful example of what it means to love your family. They taught us respect, compassion and selflessness. They took care of us like their own children when we were young, and as we got older, we started to take care of them. Our house was loud and full of love, and we’re still not used to not having them there. Growing up with Nana and Papa made us better people in every single way, and I wouldn’t trade our time together for the world. 💛

If you haven’t already, check out the newest episode of Windy City Nanny, where I talk more about my relationship with Nana and Papa and why it was such an important part of my childhood.