Why too much kind­ness is bad for the grand­chil­dren

The Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

IT has been the role of grand­par­ents to spoil their grand­chil­dren since time im­memo­rial. But if the lat­est pub­lic health re­search from the Univer­sity of Glas­gow is to be be­lieved, it seems they could in­ad­ver­tently be killing their prog­eny with kind­ness and set­ting up se­ri­ous health is­sues for the fu­ture.

Re­searchers found that de­spite mean­ing well, grand­par­ents can have an ad­verse ef­fect on the health of their grand­chil­dren in terms of weight and diet, lav­ish­ing too many treats, gen­er­ally over­feed­ing, not en­cour­ag­ing enough phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and not com­ply­ing with par­ents’ wishes on sec­ond-hand smoke.

We all know by now that obe­sity, lack of ex­er­cise and to­bacco smoke are risk fac­tors for can­cer and a litany of other se­ri­ous con­di­tions, and grand­par­ents would doubt­less be ex­tremely dis­tressed to think they were harm­ing their grand­chil­dren.

But this re­search is also in­ter­est­ing in that it re­flects changes in so­ci­ety that give many grand­par­ents more ex­ten­sive child­care re­spon­si­bil­i­ties than ever be­fore.

With this in mind, it’s im­por­tant fam­i­lies are able to talk open and hon­estly about what is in the best in­ter­ests of the chil­dren with­out mak­ing grand­par­ents feel guilty or un­der­val­ued. Af­ter all, there’s no one quite like grandma, or in­deed grand­dad, when it comes to some free babysit­ting.

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