'Grandkids will take care of you later if you take care of them now'

Grandparents who take care of their grandchildren when they are young can expect their grandchildren to take care of them as they grow older. This is according to a University of Haifa study published Tuesday. How much should grandparents be expected to take care of their grandchildren and will their 'investment' be rewarded in the future? Dr. Ahuva Even-Zohar from the Haifa University's School of Social Work, who conducted the research under the direction of Prof. Shlomo Sharlin, told The Jerusalem Post that from her evaluation of 216 sets of grandparents and their grandchildren she concluded that adult grandchildren feel a greater compassion and connection to grandparents who cared for them when they were young. This responsibility, she noted, included an overwhelming desire to help their elderly grandparents with day-to-day tasks such as transportation, shopping, nursing care and emotional support. "It's a great investment for the future," said Even-Zohar, who lecturers at the school on the phenomenon of elder abuse committed within the family. "Even little things, like occasional babysitting for a few hours were enough to make the grandchildren want to return the favor to grandparents." However, for people who become grandparents while still in the prime of their lives, this kind of commitment can really prove to be a balancing act. "Its hard for me to see myself as a grandma - I still work full time and have other children at home to care for," admitted one young grandmother, who preferred to remain anonymous. "And even thought I would put everything aside for my granddaughter, when the kids drop her off sometimes and leave her until midnight it is really exhausting." Another issue, faced particularly by immigrant families, is of grandchildren or grandparents residing overseas. Even-Zohar said she looked into different ways in which grandparents could bond with their grandchildren and noted the issues faced by families that were spread out geographically. "Obviously, daily physical contact [between grandparents and their grandchildren] makes for a strong connection," said Even-Zohar, adding, however, that with the introduction of the Internet and web-cams, which enable the chance for grandparents to talk to their grandchildren in real time, long distance relationships can also be made strong. Even-Zohar did not delve into the new technology of the Internet for this study.