·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Mental Health

Grandparent Support Positively Impacts Maternal Mental Health

— March 5, 2024

Study finds that active grandparent involvement can help improve the mental health of moms.

Recent research suggests that grandparents can play a crucial role in supporting a mother’s mental health, unveiling the significant influence of intergenerational relationships on familial well-being. Dr. Niina Metsä-Simola led the study examining the relationship between maternal mental health and the grandparent support. She is a demographics researcher who resides at the University of Helsinki in Finland.

Tracking the experiences of 488,000 mothers with young children in Finland over a span of 14 years, the study, published in the journal Population Studies, brings forth compelling insights into the dynamics of family support structures.

According to Metsä-Simola, mothers were found to be less inclined to resort to antidepressant medication if their parents were younger than 70, employed, and free from severe health issues. The study highlights the key role of grandparents in mitigating the risk of maternal depression, particularly among mothers dealing with the challenges of separation from their partners.

Grandparents emerged as vital pillars of support within family units, offering a sense of reassurance and assistance that contributes to maternal well-being.

The study emphasized the profound impact of community support networks in buffering against the adverse effects of depression and promoting resilience among mothers and their children.

Grandparent Support Positively Impacts Maternal Mental Health
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Lynne McIntyre, an AFIN Research Group perinatal psychotherapist, highlighted the enduring significance of communal support in parenting. Despite evolving societal dynamics that may alter familial living arrangements, the essence of community support remains integral to fostering healthy family environments.

However, the study also shed light on instances where the absence of grandparent support could exacerbate maternal stress levels. Mothers with elderly, unwell, or geographically distant parents exhibited higher rates of antidepressant use, pressing upon the nuanced relationship between familial support structures and mental health outcomes.

While the research was conducted within the context of Finland’s healthcare and childcare systems, its findings resonate globally, prompting reflections on the importance of creating robust support systems for mothers and families.

McIntyre emphasized the significance of cultivating diverse support networks beyond familial ties, emphasizing the role of neighbors, friends, and community groups in bolstering parental resilience.

Recognizing the evolving environment of social interactions, she impressed upon the importance of proactive engagement and community-building initiatives in mitigating feelings of isolation and promoting a sense of belonging among parents.

While the study highlights the significant impact of grandparental support on maternal mental health, it’s important to acknowledge that the mother’s receptiveness to such assistance also plays a crucial role.

Beyond the mere presence of grandparent support, the mother’s willingness to accept and accept their support can profoundly influence the dynamics of familial relationships and maternal well-being. In many cases, maternal reluctance or hesitance to seek help from grandparents may hinder the potential benefits of intergenerational support networks.

Therefore, promoting open communication and cultivating a supportive environment where mothers feel comfortable accepting assistance from grandparents can enhance the effectiveness of familial support structures in promoting maternal mental health and overall family resilience.

In an increasingly interconnected world, avenues such as social media and online parenting groups offer valuable platforms for forging meaningful connections and accessing support networks. McIntyre emphasized the proactive nature of community-building efforts, likening it to the process of nurturing relationships and introducing camaraderie.

Ultimately, the study highlights the key role of intergenerational relationships and communal support structures in safeguarding maternal mental health. Such inclusive environments and nurturing robust support networks can allow mothers to handle the challenges of parenthood with resilience and fortitude, ensuring the well-being of both mothers and their children in the journey of family life.


Grandparents may have a significant impact on a mom’s mental health, study shows

Grandparents’ Support to Young Families: Variations by Adult Children’s Union Status

Family ties when you’re pregnant or have a new baby

Expectant Grandparents Class

How Can the Grandparents Help?

Join the conversation!