The Importance of Grandparents

The Importance of Grandparents

Nicollette Violante, LCSW, PMH-C, CLC

The Importance of Grandparents, by Nicollette Violante, LCSW

Growing up, I had two sets of grandparents: one that lived in the same city as me growing up, who I saw almost every day, and the other set lived in South America, who I only saw a handful of times in my life. I treasure the memories I have with the grandparents who picked me up from school, played with me, comforted me when I was sick, and showered me with all of their love and affection. I also mourn what could have been with my other set of grandparents, had we lived on the same continent. 

As I reach the halfway point of my own first pregnancy, I find myself navigating not only my own transition into motherhood, but also the transition of my parents and in-laws into their new role of being grandparents. While more research is still needed on the effects grandparents have on parenting, one thing is clear: the transition to parenthood and to grandparenthood offers opportunities for positive realignment of relationships, along with dangers of increasing conflict and estrangement (Hansen, Jacob, pg 475). 

In fact, it seems that everyone wins when relationships between the grandparents, parents, and children are supportive and positive. One study suggests potential long-term health benefits for grandparents who are in close contact with their grandchildren (Vo, Sidrak, Munoz). Other studies suggest that expectant parents, in particular mothers, can potentially decrease the perception of stressful events and help with coping more successfully when they receive social support from their parents (Burgess, pg 69). Of course, children benefit by having a system of loving and supportive relationships, and when their parents receive social support and are able to cope more effectively with stress. 

How can we ensure that relationships between expectant parents and grandparents remain positive and supportive? We can mitigate potential conflicts by educating grandparents on current childcare practices, perinatal mental health, and empowering them to embrace their new role as grandparents by being more supportive and encouraging of their adult children. At Reproductive Psychiatry and Counseling, we are offering a 4 week Grandparenting Course. The course will be facilitated by perinatal mental health and infant mental health specialists, Elaine Cavazos, LCSW-S, PMH-C and Nicollette Violante, LCSW, PMH-C, CLC.  We have designed the class to meet everyone's needs;  grandparents, expectant parents and infants. 

Session 1 is focused on reflecting on participants’ own parenting experience, what their goals, hopes, and expectations are for this course, along with reinforcing the importance and role of grandparents. 

Session 2 is on perinatal and infant mental health, with emphasis on opportunities for care that grandparents can provide during the postpartum period, along with basic education on perinatal mood disorders, treatment, and infant mental health. 

Session 3 is a crash course on what’s changed in childcare and parenting practices, developmental tasks of new parents, the difference between support and fixing, and some communication techniques grandparents can employ. 

Session 4 is an informational session on infant CPR  and choking, along with the closing of the course. 

Please consider joining us for this transformative course! If you're interested in signing up, please fill out this form.

We hope to see you there!

Nicollette Violante, LCSW is a therapist at Deep Eddy Psychotherapy based in Austin, Texas. If you'd like more information about her clinical practice here is a link to her page.

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