According to a new study, kids especially those living in single-parent or stepfamily households, see their grandparents as their source of comfort.
The research also found that grandchildren are closer to their maternal grandparents and, within that dyad, closer to their grandmothers.
"Grandparents are a positive force for all families but play a significant role in families undergoing difficulties," said lead author Shalhevet Attar-Schwartz, PhD, of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
"They can reduce the negative influence of parents separating and be a resource for children who are going through these family changes," Attar-Schwartz added.
In addition, adolescents who spend more time with their grandparents are likely to exhibit better social skills and fewer behavior problems.
Even those living in stepfamily households benefit from benefit from time with grandparents.
To reach the conclusion, the researchers asked 1,515 English and Welsh 11- to 16-year olds from 1,010 schools who lived with two biological parents (66.3 percent), a single parent (18 percent) or within stepfamilies (15.7 percent) how much involvement they had with their closest grandparents to see if this relationship made a difference in the children's emotional and behavioral adjustment.
According to Attar-Schwartz, students reported that the more they talked to a grandparent about social and school activities, got advice or felt they could ask for money, the less hyperactive and disruptive they were.
Supportive relationships with other family members outside the immediate family may lead to better adjustment for children and adolescents, said the authors, who found this is especially true for children growing up in single-parent and stepfamily homes.
The study appears in the Journal of Family Psychology.