Grandparents are Important for Kids with Single Parent or in Stepfamily

Feb 26, 2009
Children raised by single parent or living in stepfamilies have better social skills and show better behavior if they stay in touch with their grandparents, a new study says.

The study conducted by Shalhevet Attar-Schwartz of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem involved more than 1,500 children aged between 11 and 16, living with to biological parents, in a single-parent families and stepfamilies. The researchers asked all the participants about their relationships with grandparents to find if it played a positive role in children's social skills and behavior.

The findings show that grandparents become a great source of comfort for children, who live in families where their parents have divorced or they lived with a single parent. Children, who had close relationships with their grandparents reported about discussing their school activities, turned to them for comfort and advice. Also these children were less likely to be hyperactive or show troublesome behavior. In terms of social interactions, they also got on better with their peers.

Today almost 59 percent of children live with a single parent at least once and one-third of all children in the U.S. live in a stepfamily. The stepfamily, where one of the biological parents remarries after divorce, separation or a death of the spouse has become more common. Children in stepfamilies and in single parent families often face a number of conflicts and as a result are more likely to have psychological problems such as disturbing behavior, have more difficulties in socializing with peers and family, develop drug or alcohol addiction and become sexually active earlier.

Close relationships with other family members may help children and adolescents, living in blended families and with single parent adjust better and overcome family stresses, the authors of the study say.

This study was published in the February issue of the Journal of Family Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association