I saw a beautiful quote the other day that said, “The maternal grandmother is the purest unconditional love you can ever find.” First, I thought, “that’s so true!” Then, I wondered “why just maternal grandparents, though?” So, let’s discuss!
Our Maternal Grandmothers Give Us the Purest Unconditional Love Ever
Before we start talking about the bond between maternal grandmothers and their grandchildren, I just want to clarify something. I’m not saying that kids don’t (or can’t) bond as deeply with paternal grandparents. They absolutely can!
However, studies do show that maternal grandparents play a greater role in their grandkids’ lives overall. We’ll take a look at some of them in a few minutes. First, though, I want to share some thoughts on why that quote is just so true.
What makes a grandmother’s love so pure?
If you’ve checked out my other posts on this topic, you know I feel pretty strongly that raising kids near their grandparents is the best gift you can give them. Our parents just have a different way of interacting with our kids than we do, and sometimes they need that.
Maybe it’s because grandmothers literally have a lifetime of experience raising kids, so they just plain have more knowledge and patience than we do. We’re pretty awesome, too, but until our kids are fully grown and starting families of their own, we’re still basically “learning on the job.” Our moms, on the other hand, completed their training!
Speaking of jobs, if you think about it, when we’re in the process of raising kids, we have SO many of them. We’re our children’s teachers, nurses, personal assistants, taxi drivers, chefs, accountants. We’re the people who make the rules (I guess you could call us Congress?) and enforce them. When kids break them, we’re the judge and the jury! The list goes on and on.
Grandmothers, on the other hand, basically retired from the majority of those jobs when we grew up and moved out. So, they just get to be grandma, period. Their sole duty is to love our kids unconditionally, and they definitely excel at that!
If you need more proof, check out my post about why a grandmother’s presence is really the best present. For now, I want to move on to the second part of my response to that quote: why maternal grandmothers specifically?
Why are maternal grandmothers often closer to their grandkids?
Before we look at the studies, I feel like I need to say again that I personally do not believe at all that only maternal grandmothers can be close to their grandchildren. Quite the opposite, as you’ll see later on.
So, turns out, scientists have actually spent a good amount of time trying to answer that question. I was really surprised at the wide range of results. Some of them I feel are kind of outdated. Like, one basically said maternal grandparents are closer because women don’t get along with their mothers-in-law. So, they don’t let their kids see paternal grandparents as often. I’d like to think we’re well beyond that tired cliché. However, there is a second part to that general theory that does make sense: cases of divorce.
Kids of divorced parents spend more time with mom’s parents
While the overall rate is lower than ever and divorced parents are more likely to share equal custody of kids, in general children still end up living with their moms more than their dads. One study found that this played a major role in determining just how close kids were to their dad’s parents. Of course, it all depends on just how “out of the picture” dad is. If kids never see him at all, they’re also unlikely to spend much – if any- time with his mom.
Children tend to live closer to their maternal grandmothers in general
Even in cases where both parents are still together, women are far more likely to live closer to their parents than men. Obviously, that’s not always the case, but I see it a lot in my own circle of friends. Multigenerational households are also becoming more common again, and that often means that children don’t just live near their maternal grandmothers, but with them.
There are tons of other studies on the topic, including some that say it’s all about genetics (yep, maternal grandmothers share more genes with grandkids than paternal ones, apparently), but those were the two that made the most sense to me. They’re also the two that we can actually do something about!
How can we help paternal grandmothers bond with our kids?
If we work together- moms AND ex-mothers-in-law – we can help remove the barriers that keep paternal grandparents from forming closer bonds with their grandchildren.
For example, if you’re a divorced mom and your kids live with you, actively arrange for your ex-mother-in-law to spend time with your children. If you’re a paternal grandmother, remember that the road goes both ways. On the other hand, if your ex-daughter-in-law doesn’t reach out to you, then call her. Make the first move.
If your kids’ paternal grandparents live on the other side of the country- or the world even- then you’ll just have to work harder to help them bond. Facetime, Zoom and such are the best inventions ever for this. Technology in general has made it easier than ever for kids to form close relationships with both sets of grandparents, no matter how close or far they are.
I know this all took a few unexpected twists and turns for a post that started out talking about why maternal grandmothers give our kids the purest unconditional love. Somewhere along the line, though, I realized that there’s absolutely no reason- despite what science says- why that quote shouldn’t drop the “maternal” and include ALL grandmothers. Heck, grandfathers, too! Let’s not leave them out!