A recent study conducted by researchers from Sivas Cumhuriyet University, Cappadocia University, and the University of Exeter suggests that grandparent childcare for toddlers does not significantly affect the wellbeing of mothers. The study analyzed data from 1,495 mothers and their children and found no statistical link between children spending time with grandparents at age three and better social and emotional development at age seven, or improved maternal wellbeing and mother-child relationships at age three.
The results showed that children spending at least six months in the care of grandparents did not have a significant association with improved maternal mental health and wellbeing, better mother-child relationships, or enhanced social and emotional outcomes for the children at age seven. The researchers also found that poor maternal wellbeing at age three predicted poor social and emotional outcomes for the children at age seven.
The study used data from the Millennium Cohort Study and found that 39.3% of the children spent 1 to 10 hours with their grandparents, 33.7% spent 11 to 20 hours, and 27% spent more than 21 hours. Various scales and questionnaires were used to assess maternal psychological wellbeing, mother-child relationships, and child emotional and behavioral difficulties.
While having an extra pair of hands may impact maternal stress in child upbringing, the study’s findings suggest that there is no direct relationship between maternal psychological wellbeing and the amount of support provided by grandparents in families that primarily rely on grandparental childcare. However, the researchers caution that these findings are tentative and may vary for different groups of mothers, such as single mothers, those with limited support resources, or those from different ethnic backgrounds or full-time employment.
In conclusion, the study indicates that grandparent childcare for toddlers does not have a significant impact on the wellbeing of mothers. The researchers suggest that more attention should be given to child and maternal mental health and wellbeing during early childhood. While having extra help from another generation may provide practical support, it may not necessarily improve mother-child relationships or children’s social and emotional development. Further research is needed to better understand the complex factors influencing these outcomes.