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Do grandmothers hold deeper bond with grandkids over own children?

Posted at 1:34 PM, Nov 24, 2021

ATLANTA — Some people won't be surprised to learn that a new study suggests grandmothers hold a deeper bond with their grandchildren over their own kids.

WTVT reports that when grandmothers in the Emory University study were shown photos of a grandkid, it triggered parts of the brain that involved emotional empathy and movement. Meanwhile, when the same women were shown photos of their own grown children, it failed to activate that same emotional side of their brains.

“Young children have likely evolved traits to be able to manipulate not just the maternal brain, but the grand maternal brain,” said Emory's James Rilling. “An adult child doesn’t have the same cute ‘factor,’ so they may not illicit the same emotional response.”

Fifty grandmothers with at least one biological grandchild between three and 12 years old were surveyed in the study.

“Many of them also said how nice it is to not be under as much time and financial pressure as they were when raising their children,” Rilling said. “They get to enjoy the experience of being a grandmother much more than they did being parents.”

One of the study's co-authors said they're now interested to explore the
neuroscience of grandfathers.