A study published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that unlike other apes, humans often possess gene variants that protect against late-in-life diseases. Those variations keep us living long past our child-rearing days are over. But why? What's the evolutionary point of living well into our 90s if we have kids in our 20s? Researchers say there is evidence that grandkids help humans live longer.
While science is great and all, and grandkids may help keep us alive and kickin', the real unsung heroes here are grandparents. Intergenerational relationships are hugely important to our family dynamic, and for economic, social, or whatever reason, more and more families are choosing to live with grandparents.
Grandparents can play important roles in childcare that have huge developmental benefits for children. Their involvement benefits parents as well. Grandparents are able to shoulder some of the burden and stress of child-rearing, leaving parents time for their sanity, or, in the olden days, hunter-gathering. But, if grandparents are not healthy, they add to that burden. Researchers suggest that those evolutionary gene variants keep grandparents healthy longer so that they can help their family, rather than hurt it. Basically, grandparents rule and we'd be lost without them.
Here are more ways grandparents keep families hip, in check, and functional.
Free Babysitting, Anyone?
All grandparents are different, but if you play your cards right, your parents will be your babysitting lifesavers for years to come. Childcare costs are through the roof these days, and many families struggle to balance two-income schedules. Enter grandparents. They have experience (hello, they raised you), they keep their cool, and they probably like your kids (I'm pretty sure they have to, right?).
There's definitely something to be said for teaching your kids technological literacy, but isn't there also value in teaching them how to leave their devices behind every so often? Grandparents have very different levels of tech-savviness, but you can bet that most of them know a thing or two about raising kids unplugged. (They didn't have a choice!) Grandparents can teach kids to be interested in things beyond screens, like books, cooking, fishing, music, or just playing outside. Your kids will thank you later. (And so will your electric bill.)
They've Got Style Like No Other
Grandparents don't give AF. They transcend style with attitude and do what they want. Pioneers like Instagram star Baddiewinkle, legend Iris Apfel, and The Notorious RBG are leading the way in the grandma-chic movement. Don't you want some of that free-spirited gusto to rub off on your kids? Sure, you do. There can be wisdom in sass.
Evolutionary boon or not, hats off to grandparents everywhere. Science says we need you, but we already knew that.