Why grandparents are so important

In our tech-dominated world today, the role of the grandparent is as important as ever. Find out how children can benefit from spending time with them.

Legal & General commissioned new research which surveyed 2,000 grandparents and 2,000 grandchildren to understand the role of the grandparent in 2023. The survey explores the extent to which there are still opportunities for inter-generational sharing in the post-lockdown world.

The research was split into four themes – hobbies, values, time and influence. The results give an insight into the role grandparents play within families in 2023, and the lessons they pass on. 


How Covid has changed relationships with grandparents

Many families are no strangers to long-distance grandparenting, so Legal & General wanted to get a picture of how much time UK grandparents spend with their grandchildren.

The North East was revealed as the location where grandparents and grandchildren spent the most time together (141 days) while in the South West, the figure was 85 days. 

A resounding majority (84%) of grandparents agreed that they don’t want to miss out on spending time with grandchildren, while just 51% of grandkids said the same of their grandparents. 

However, the nature of the time we all spend together is changing. The COVID-19 pandemic made a significant impact on how we spend time with loved ones. 36% of grandparents told us they’ve spent more time with their grandchildren since the pandemic, compared to just 19% who’ve spent less time. 

What’s the influence of modern grandparents?  

The Legal & General survey also sheds light on how grandparents feel about everyday family interactions. There was some concern among grandparents about not wanting to interfere with childrearing; 64% of grandparents said they avoid decision-making as they do not wish to undermine the parents.

However, 74% said they feel valued when they’re asked for advice on their grandchildren’s upbringing. Additionally, just 29% of grandparents described themselves as a “decision maker” in how their grandchildren are raised.

So how can grandparents make meaningful interventions? While financial assistance is an obvious answer – 44% of grandparents have given money as a birthday or Christmas gift – we found that grandparents play a key role in a host of other activities. 

Childcare costs have become a significant factor in parents’ lives, and almost half (48%) of grandparents said they spend time with their grandchildren to reduce the cost of childcare, while (17%) revealed that they provide childcare duties every week. 

Here is the percentage of grandparents who do the following activity every week:

Babysit / childcare17%
The school run13%
Advise on school / schoolwork12%
Allocate chores9%
Provide additional help when a grandchild or parent is ill8%
Advise on friends / relationships7%
Advise on jobs / work5%
Take child on holiday2%

Nationally, 13% of grandparents said they do the weekly school run, and regionally, Yorkshire and the Humber were revealed as the region where grandparents do the school run most often – 125.11 mean days per year, compared to the South West (74.6 mean days).   

Intergenerational hobbies and habit sharing 

According to the grandchildren Legal & General surveyed, grandparents have been the inspiration behind countless hobbies and habits to last a lifetime. 

In fact, the research highlighted a surge of interest in crafting among young people. 32% of 18-24-year-olds revealed that they were taught sewing or knitting by their grandparents – more than twice as likely as 35-44-year-olds (15%) and 45-50-year-olds (15%).  

Here are the hobbies children said their grandparents introduce them to:

Cooking / baking 51% 
Gardening 34% 
Puzzles 33% 
Sports 31% 
Sewing / knitting 26% 
Collecting 21% 
Model building 14% 

How grandparents help impart values and wisdom 

Across grandchildren of all ages, manners and politeness are the most frequently cited life lessons learned from grandparents, peaking at 54% among 45-50-year-olds. 34% of the youngest cohort (18–24-year-olds) revealed that advice on friends or relationships has been the most important life lesson from their grandparents.

In contrast, just 14% of 45-50-year-old grandkids said the same. Grandchildren (30%) also reported that they have received money-saving and financial advice from their grandparents – priceless knowledge in these tricky economic times.  

Here are the most important life lessons grandparents taught children:

Manners/politeness 51% 
Money-saving / financial advice 30% 
Independence/self-sufficiency 30% 
Friends/relationship advice 26% 

Grandparents have an important impact on chidlren

Paula Llewellyn, Chief Marketing Officer, and Direct MD of Legal & General Retail notes that the study is a reminder of the immeasurable impact that grandparents have on their grandchildren’s lives. From imparting invaluable life lessons to providing emotional support, grandparents serve as beacons of wisdom and guidance for younger generations.

In an age where the cost of living continues to bite, the study highlights how grandparents help ease the financial burden on their families, while passing down important life skills. Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the study’s findings underscore the significance of preserving intergenerational connections and the values that grandparents impart to their grandchildren.