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One of the things many adults look forward to as they age is becoming a grandparent. Being a grandparent feels special, even for those grandparents who don’t live near their grandchildren. For those older adults who don’t have grandchildren, even a grand-pet, such as a granddog, can be a treat.

Part of the joy of grandparenting stems from the fact that grandparents can enjoy being with their grandchildren without doing the heavy lifting of raising the child. As a grandparent, you are free to have fun with your grandchildren, without worry about things like saving for college, childcare, and homework. This lack of stress and worry can allow grandparents to be present for their grandchildren in a way that can be tough with one’s own children. As an older adult, you may be retired and thus feel less stress about life than you did when you were younger, allowing you to be more patient and focus your attention on your grandchild instead of worrying about work.

As you age, it is important to have social interaction with others as this can help you stay healthy physically and mentally. Engaging with grandchildren can provide older adults with an opportunity for stimulating social interaction and physical activity. Taking your grandchild to the park or going for a walk can help motivate you to get exercise. Interacting with grandchildren, even virtually, can help grandparents feel less lonely and isolated, something that has become especially important during the Covid-19 pandemic. Conversely, grandparents have a lot to teach their grandchildren as those children learn and grow. In this sense, the grandparent-grandchild relationship is mutually beneficial, helping both parties grow, learn, and stay healthy.

Grandparenting can mean different things for different people. While many grandparents are the primary caregiver for their grandchildren, for others the grandparent-grandchild relationship is more flexible. This flexibility means that you can make this relationship look however the involved parties want it to. For those who feel challenged by grandparenting, less involvement with your grandchildren is okay. Distanced activities, such as writing letters to your grandchildren or talking to them on the phone are still a good way to connect with your grandchildren.

For those grandparents who are the primary caregiver for their grandchildren, raising those children can be rewarding but also challenging. Raising your grandkids can provide you with a sense of purpose and a close relationship with those children but can also bring added stress and increased anxiety. If you are in this position, know that you are not alone and there are resources out for you containing tips and advice. Check out AARP’s Guide for Grandfamilies.