If you were lucky enough to have a grandma close by throughout your childhood, then you know how special these wonderful women can be. These are just a few things that you will only understand if your grandma was your best friend growing up.
12 Things You’ll Only Understand If Your Grandma Is Your Best Friend
For many of us, our grandparents are some of our first friends when we are born. They’re there to help out our own parents as they navigate parenthood. They are often our first babysitters and take care of us when we are sick and our parents have to work.
Grandparents let us do all the things our parents won’t allow us to – and they would have never allowed their own kids – like eat dessert for dinner or stay up past our bedtimes. Grandma, especially, spoils us, often in the form of our favorite sweet treat or a home-cooked meal.
Here are our top 11 reasons why grandma is simply the best.
1. She keeps us happy – and we keep her happy, too
A 2016 study from the Journal of the American Gerontological Society showed that grandparents who spent time with their grandchildren had a lower risk of depression. This quality time benefits the grandkids, too, particularly when the kids are ill. (1)
“Grandparents are a security blanket,” says social psychologist Susan Newman. “If there’s somebody they trust and know is always on their side, that’s a huge emotional plus for the child. They have somebody around who’s comforting; who hugs them and sits with them and reads with them.” (2)
Not just when we’re kids, but as adults, too. According to a study done at Boston University in June 2016, adult grandchildren and their grandparents who have a close relationship are both less likely to suffer from depression. (3)
2. We learn from her, and she may get brain benefits too!
Our grandma teaches us many life skills. Perhaps your grandma is a brilliant cook or baker and she’s spent years passing on her secret family recipes to you. Maybe she loves sewing or gardening and enjoys teaching you how to mend your own clothes or grow your own tomatoes. Or, perhaps she is a successful businesswoman who has spent years proving to her grandchildren that women can achieve anything they set their minds to.
Regardless of what she taught you, one thing is for certain: You know more about life and how to live it because of her. Did you know, however, that you have brain-boosting effects on her, as well, just simply by spending time with her?
A study published in 2014 in the Journal of Marriage and the Family and another in the Journal of the North American Menopause Society linked weekly grandma babysitting gigs with an increase in brain function. (4, 5)
That being said, the second of the two studies did find that when five days of childcare or more by grandma can actually have the opposite effect. (5)
3. Grandma makes our life better, we make her life longer
A 2016 study in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior studied 500 elderly European grandparents between 70 and 103 years of age. Those who provided even just occasional care of their grandchildren were more likely to still be alive five years after the study. (6)
Of course, those grandparents who take over child-raising responsibilities from parents, whether it’s because of death, addiction, divorce, or other reasons, are life-savers and true heroes.
The Grandmother Hypothesis
There are few species of animals whose females live very long past reproductive age, however, homo sapiens, aka humans, do. Researchers in the 1960s studied this and coined it “the grandmother hypothesis”: Grandma’s exists to allow their daughters to have more children. (7) How? By helping them take care of the children so they can spend their time, well, having more. (7)
These benefits, however, only last to a certain point. Once a woman reached an age at which she was no longer physically capable of most daily tasks, she actually became a detriment. Unable to help out any longer, she became another dependent who took resources away from the young ones. (7)
Of course, much of this doesn’t much apply in modern times, but it does explain why women live so long past post-reproductive years in the first place.
4. You’ll never go hungry at grandma’s
There’s no cooking like grandma’s cooking, and often that’s one of her favorite ways to show you she loves you – through food. She never hesitates to make your favorite dish – or dessert – and eat it whenever you want, no matter what time of day.
Not only that, but grandma’s house is never short on all the treats and goodies that your parents won’t let you have. Spoiled? No, according to grandma you’re just well-fed.
5. You help each other
Grandma has lived a long time – long enough to have collected some wisdom over the years. She can give great advice on everything from relationships to how to remove a stain from your favorite t-shirt. Grandma can even help you understand some of the people who you don’t think get you at all: Your own parents. She has, after all, known them for a very long time.
That being said, the world is constantly moving and changing and sometimes the older generation has a tough time keeping up. That’s where you come in: You keep her young, “in-the-know”, and are always there to help her with new technologies and all things internet.
6. She’s always there for you
She’s on the sidelines of every soccer game, in the audience of every dance recital, ready to celebrate every single one of life’s milestones with you. From losing your first tooth to graduations and first jobs, she’s always cheering you on.
7. Grandma is fun
She’s done her duty as a parent, so now it’s her turn to relax and just be a grandma. Sure, she’ll still keep you on your toes and won’t put up with any misbehaving – unless, of course, you’re including her in the mischief!
8. She’s a great listener
Grandma is always there to listen to our problems, especially the ones that we may not feel comfortable going to our own parents about. The best part? We know she won’t share our secrets with anyone – unless, of course, she knows that our personal health and safety are at risk.
9. There’s no hug like a hug from Grandma
An embrace from grams is like chicken soup for the soul. She makes us feel loved, important and puts us at ease when we’re feeling down and out. Grandma’s hugs are like mini time-outs from the world and the troubles we are facing. In those moments we can relax and just feel her love being wrapped around us.
10. Grandma’s house is a safe space
If your grandma is your best friend, then you know how much of a haven her house can be. She understands you and appreciates you for who you are. You can relax and be yourself around her without fear of judgment. When you need to recharge, her house is where you go.
11. She encourages you
Trying out for the basketball team? She’ll buy you new shoes for them. Auditioning for the school play? She’ll help you recite your lines. Saving up to backpack through Southeast Asia? She’ll slip some extra cash in your coat pocket when no one is looking.
She does all of this because she believes in you and always wants to help you conquer your fears and pursue your dreams, even if it means you might be away for a while.
12. She keeps you grounded
Sometimes young people tend to think a bit too highly of themselves. Grandma will be quick to remind you that she changed your diapers and taught you to put on pants.
That being said, she won’t let you forget all the hard work you’ve put in and how far you’ve come. She’ll always tell you how proud she is to be your Grandma.
Grandma Should Be Treasured
There’s no doubt about it, grandma’s are the greatest. If you are lucky enough to still have one, this is your reminder to go give her a call. If not, guaranteed she’s somewhere feeling proud of who you’ve become.
- “The Health Benefits of Having (and Being) Grandparents.” US News. Lisa Esposito. September 13, 2017.
- “Solidarity in the Grandparent-Adult Grandchild Relationship and Trajectories of Depressive Symptoms” NCBI. Sara M Moorman, et al. June 2016.
- “Does Grandparenting Pay Off? The Effect of Child Care on Grandparents’ Cognitive Functioning.” Wiley Online Library. Bruno Arpino, et al. March 4, 2014.
- “Role of grandparenting in postmenopausal women’s cognitive health: results from the Women’s Healthy Aging Project.” Journals. Burn, Katherine F. BSc(Hons), et al. October 2014.
- “Caregiving within and beyond the family is associated with lower mortality for the caregiver: A prospective study.” Science Direct. SonjaHilbrand, et al. May 2017.
- “Limits to Fitness Benefits of Prolonged Post-reproductive Lifespan in Women.” Current Biology. Simon N. Chapman, et al. February 18, 2019.