Your parents may love your children more than they love you, but a new study suggests they get no health benefits out of babysitting them, so ha-ha, who’s laughing now bitch???
The study, published this week in The Journals of Gerontology, attempted to determine whether providing childcare for grandchildren had a rejuvenating effect on the subjects’ “subjective age,” meaning the age they feel rather than the age they are. (Apparently the age you feel is a good indicator of your emotional and physical health.) (How old do you feel? Something to think about.) Researchers followed a group of grandparents on their grandchild caretaker journey, starting before they began taking care of little ones, tracking their subjective ages along the way.
The study was a follow-up to a 2016 study from the same researchers, which measured the subjective age of grandparents who were already providing childcare. That study found that childcare-providing grandparents had a lower subjective age than non-childcare-providing grandparents, but failed to note the subjects’ subjective ages from before they began providing childcare. Seems like an obvious thing to document but I’m not a scientist and my subjective age is around 17, so.
“Contrary to our 2016 findings, our new study found no youthful effect of the transition from not being a caregiver to becoming a grandchild caregiver for either grandfathers or grandmothers,” Dr. Valeria Bordone, co-author of the report, told the Guardian. “It may well be that personality traits and family values that mean grandparents already have a young subjective age are overrepresented among individuals who provide care to others.”
So basically, the study found that grandparents who are willing to babysit your kids already feel youthful enough to do so and are getting basically nothing out of it other than an accumulation of time spent with the person they love more than you.
On a positive note, the study found that grandparents who babysit children who are not their own do seem to gain a slight rejuvenating effect. The authors suggest this could be because hanging out with “grandchildren” can inherently make one feel old, whereas hanging out with “children” just makes one feel like they’re young enough that non-relatives feel comfortable asking them to do annoying favors. So. At least they have that!