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Grandmothers feel more connected with their grandchildren than their children - study

Grandparents feel greater “emotional empathy” for the younger generation

In Summary

•Grandparents feel greater “emotional empathy” for the younger generation.

•“What really struck most is the activation in areas of the brain associated with emotional empathy,” says Rilling.

A grandmother with her grandchild
A grandmother with her grandchild
Image: Courtesy: Pinteerest

Many grandparents cherish the opportunity to spoil and have extra special relationships with their grandchildren.

Sometimes, it feels like your own mother likes your children more than she likes you.

A new study published recently indicated that grandmothers feel more connected with their grandchildren, than they do with their own children.

The research which was led by James Rilling, a professor of anthropology at Emory University and the lead author, got women to look at photos of their child, grandchild and something unrelated, while researchers scanned their brains using MRIs.

“What really struck most is the activation in areas of the brain associated with emotional empathy,” says Rilling.

“That suggests that grandmothers are geared toward feeling what their grandchildren are feeling when they interact with them. If their grandchild is smiling, they’re feeling the child’s joy. And if their grandchild is crying, they’re feeling the child’s pain and distress.”

On the other hand, photos of the women's own children activated the areas of their brain linked to cognitive empathy, suggesting a mental understanding of their child but less of an emotional connection.

Kelvin Murimi, a 34 year old chef says his grandmother gets really excited when he sees him.

“I totally can relate with this research, because, when I interact with my grandmothers, they are very welcoming and happy to see me. Now and as a child, I don’t understand why,” Murimi told the Star.

It can be rewarding to watch your parents bond with your children.

If you are having issues, communication and having them involved in your child’s life goes a long way and can give the child a wonderful experience.

Grandparents with their grandkids
Grandparents with their grandkids
Image: Courtesy: Pinterest

Janice Njeri is a 56-year-old grand mother of three who says she is lucky and privileged to be asked to take care of her grandchildren.

“I love it even though when the mom is not around it can be tiring, I love my grandkids and I hope I will live enough to watch them grow,” Njeri told the Star.

“It is so nice being close to them as I get closer to my children in return, it is a blessing.”

She however advised parents to show appreciation to them and not take their kindness for granted.

“I know I'm more likely to be attentive to them than I did to my own kids, but parents need to know the difference between a baby sitter and a grandmother.”

 

Edited by CM