How do parents see the role of grandparents in their children’s lives? How do they feel about the ways their parents participate in raising their children – and how have grandparents’ contributions to child-rearing changed since today’s parents were kids?

These questions inspired a Nickelodeon International survey of parents in the UK, France, Spain, Germany, and Italy. Here are key findings from that report:

Most kids have at least one grandparent playing a part in their life – and most parents believe it’s important for grandparents to be involved with their grandchildren.

•  Grandmothers are more likely to have a role in kids’ lives than grandfathers
•  Virtually all parents believe their parents’ involvement with their kids is important

Being a grandparent is mostly seen as positive, with over 6 in 10 parents saying it gives older people a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.   

•  More than half say it helps grandparents feel like a valuable member of the family, gives them joy without the responsibilities, and gives them something to look forward to
•  The most common complaints were that being a grandparent makes them tired (12%), worries them (7%), adds to stress (6%), and creates financial strain (6%)

Most grandparents live close to their grandchildren – and that geographic proximity creates a strong emotional bond across the three generations, while also providing parents with crucial support.

•  Most grandparents live less than a half-hour away
•  1 in 8 live under the same roof as their grandkids
•  Grandparents help free up their children’s time by providing child care (nearly 60% play with or babysit grandkids)
•  More than 1 in 4 grandparents supply their kids with parenting advice
•  8 in 10 believe grandparents have more freedom to spoil grandchildren
•  70-80% of parents say grandparents influence their grandchildren’s personal development and act as role models

Grandparents participate in recreational activities with grandkids, read with them, and teach other valuable life skills. Many also contribute money to the kids’ upbringing when necessary as well.

•  The top grandparent-grandchild activity is playing together (60%) – relatedly, 56% go to the park, 49% play outdoors, and 38% take them on day trips
•  56% watch TV with grandkids, 31% watch DVDs, and 22% go to the movies
•  About 4 in 10 read together or cook/bake, and 1 in 5 ride a bike
•  Two-thirds provide money for their grandkids – most often general financial support when needed, but some also pay for hobbies and activities, set up savings accounts, cover regular expenses, and contribute educational funds

To keep in touch with grandkids, grandparents generally eschew newer technology in favor of seeing them in person or talking on the phone.

•  8 in 10 see their grandkids face to face, and 3 out of 4 use the telephone
•  Other forms of communication are less common: Skype/Facetime (14%), email (11%), social media (9%), and letters (8%)

Just over half of parents believe that grandparents receive enough recognition for their role in modern society.
•  Parents are most likely to say there is “some” (38%) or “a little” (26%) recognition of grandparents
•  They believe grandparents are not more widely recognized for their contributions because of the fast pace of life and stereotypes about grandparents being more elderly and infirm than they really are

To parents, the main benefits of having grandparents around are that they strengthen family bonds, convey wisdom and values, and pass on traditions.

•  8 out of 10 parents believe grandparents strengthen family bonds
•  6 in 10 agree that they convey wisdom and values, and that they also pass on traditions
•  55% believe that having grandparents around fosters respect for older people and keeps older people active

Most parents believe the role of grandparents is increasing due to the decline of traditional families.
•  Three out of four parents agree that with more single parents, grandparents play a greater role
•  Close to 40% believe that grandparents have a closer relationship with grandchildren than parents do