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Grandparenting During a Pandemic

ACCORDING TO A RECENT survey by GrandkidsMatter, 42% of grandparents say their relationship with their grandchildren has stayed the same during the pandemic. Meanwhile, 31% said it became stronger, and 27% reported that it became weaker.

Is there a playbook for grandparenting during a pandemic? We seem to be writing a new one. I know this personally, having three kids with six grandchildren, all long distances away.

According to the study, grandparents' physical health, mental outlook and emotional state impacted their responses. The "became weaker" group scored lower in health and were more likely to feel depressed, tired and hopeless. The "stayed the same" group had the highest mental acuity. Younger grandparents were significantly more likely to "become stronger" in their relationship. I interpret that as meaning "new" enthusiastic grandparents hellbent on enjoying their young grandkids.

Separation Scenarios

Being separated is certainly a big factor during this time. It's interesting: On one hand, some grandparents who were visiting when the pandemic hit suddenly became live-in grandparents. That helped their kids tremendously, and also provided a way for the grandkids and grandparents to grow closer. They could help mentor them and assist them with school work. But over an extended period of time, you can wear out your welcome.

Other grandparents who lived relatively close to their grandkids and were used to helping out and being around could no longer visit. And then there were grandparents like me and my wife, who could only see the kids through video. And that took a toll mentally. Our kids are incredibly protective of their kids, and of us, so they didn't want us visiting for our own health. Thankfully, they've eased up a bit on that, and we've now seen them.


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