Quality Time With Grandparents Could Reduce Kids' Ageist Mindset Later In Life

"When it came to ageist views, we found that quality of contact mattered much more than frequency."

For all those parents who've felt the sudden urge to drop their kids at Grandma's house, you're not alone — and now there's science to support your cause. While your primary motivation might be an uninterrupted night with Netflix, a new study suggests that spending quality time with one's grandparents might inevitably prevent ageism later in life.

According to a recent study, fostering nurturing relationships between children and their grandparents could prevent said kids from developing an ageist mindset down the road. Published in the journal Child Development, the findings claim that children who establish a sound, loving relationship with their grandparents are less likely to become prejudiced against the elderly as they grow up.

Conducted by University of Liege in Belgium, researchers asked 1,151 Belgium children, ages 7 to 16, to describe their feelings toward their grandparents. As it turns out, those who were unhappy with the relationship were more inclined to have ageist views. Ultimately, quality trumps frequency, as those who have solid relationships with their grandparents are less prejudiced regardless of how often they see each other.

"The most important factor associated with ageist stereotypes was poor quality of contact with grandparents," Allison Flamion, psychology graduate student and study leader, said in a news release from the Society for Research in Child Development. "We asked children to describe how they felt about seeing their grandparents. Those who felt unhappy were designated as having poor quality of contact. When it came to ageist views, we found that quality of contact mattered much more than frequency."

However, this correlation might inevitably impact how our society views older generations, especially in the business realm, which has seen a steady influx of ageist sentiment as many forego retirement to buffer economic uncertainty. As Nicole Javorsky writes for City Limits, today's workforce now spans a wide breadth of age groups -- but not everyone's willing to embrace the elderly with open arms.

"Since people are living and staying healthier longer, many individuals cannot necessarily afford to retire at 65," Javorsky explains. "With better health, vast numbers of older adults are able to keep working longer than past generations could. This reality has not stopped many employers and coworkers from believing it's time for older adults to leave the workforce once they celebrate a certain birthday. When their employers act upon this belief, workers can be confronted with age discrimination."

While it's technically illegal, age discrimination continues to run rampant across America. Although the Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) aims to protect individuals age 40 and older from age discrimination, the number of age discrimination charges filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) hasn't dipped below 18,000 since 2006. In fact, in 2017 alone, 18,376 charges of age discrimination were filed with the EEOC. 

But, if we can begin to curb negative perspectives by teaching children to love and respect the elderly people they hold near and dear to their hearts, perhaps we can work to cultivate an enriched workforce where all ages are welcome.

Cover image via Pixabay / Pexels

H/T: The Huffington Post

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