Why a Maternal Grandmother Is So Important for a Child

If your grandmothers took part in your upbringing, your childhood memories are most probably filled with joy and the feeling of safety and comfort. Few of us have ever thought there was any difference in the way paternal and maternal grandmothers influence their grandchildren. According to scientists, however, there is something special we get from our maternal grandmothers apart from their love and affection.

Here at Bright Side we’ve studied some theories on the role of a maternal grandmother in a child’s life and here’s what we’ve found.

What do we share with our grandparents?

Genes are basic units of heredity made up of DNA. According to genetics, grandparents share on average 25% of their DNA with their grandchildren with the exact percentage depending on the DNA swapping. We inherit our genes from both our male and female grandparents, of course, but according to scientists it’s the maternal grandmothers who have the higher degree of influence on the offspring.

There’s something special our grandmothers give us.

Maternal grandmothers have closer connection with their grandchildren, as they give birth to the mothers who in their turn give birth to the children. In many families maternal grandmothers tend to bear more responsibility for the kids and spend more time with them. It’s not only the psychological connection that makes the role of maternal grandmothers so important but some theories suggest that genetically-speaking paternal and maternal grandmothers unequally invest in their grandchildren.

Scientific theories prove that there is a strong genetic bond between maternal grandmothers and their children.

One of the theories claims that the difference in the way paternal and maternal grandmothers are connected to their grandchildren may be explained by the X-chromosome connection. Maternal grandmothers have 25% X relatedness to both grandsons and granddaughters, while paternal grandmothers pass on one of their X-chromosomes to their granddaughters, but not to their grandsons. This makes paternal grandmothers 50% X-related to their granddaughters and 0% X-related to their grandsons.

Another theory suggests that the so-called “paternal uncertainty” may greatly influence the grandparents’ incentive to take care of their grandchildren. Paternal uncertainty implies that male members of the family may not always be sure they are bringing up their own children, as they do not give birth themselves. In the long run it may decrease the engagement of paternal relatives, including grandmothers, into caretaking behavior toward the offspring. At the same time, a woman is always sure she gave the birth to her child which makes the matrilineal connection the strongest in the family throughout generations.

Other theories suggesting the unique role of the maternal grandmother.

This theory that was developed by the Chilean novelist, essayist and playwright Alejandro Jodorowsky, suggests that of all the 4 grandparents we are most tightly connected to our maternal grandmothers. According to his theory, our genes may “skip” a generation and be passed from our grandparents directly to us, which can be proven by the fact that some people resemble their grandparents more than their moms and dads. Jodorowsky believes that apart from biological material, mothers pass on emotions to their daughters who later pass them on to their children.

The theories we’ve just shared with you speak about the special role of the maternal grandmother in the life of a child. We are all different, however, and we have different families with different ties and relationships. So, let us be thankful and appreciate the love, care, and wisdom our grandfathers and grandmothers give us, regardless of the genetic relatedness.

What do you think of these theories? Was there any special connection between you and your grandmother or grandmothers? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Please note: This article was updated in May 2022 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.
Preview photo credit Shutterstock.com

Comments

Let me put it plain logic and leave the chromosome theory to medical experts..

Maternal Grandparents...that is your Daughters children ...Grand children start spending time with the Grand parents the day the Daughter comes to parents home few months before delivery ..the foetus starts listening the grand parents ,maternal uncle's voices and starts developing special bonding...even after birth the child spends couple of months before the Daughter goes back to her in law's house..I feel this is the reason for the special bonding and affection...but at the same time for grand parents by Son's children...there is no reason there will be less affection or bonding...we are now maternal grand parents spending great time with our grand daughters and will do the same with my son's children ...though few of my friends challenged that we will not have the same affection...
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Yes, X chromosome/X linked inheritance is from maternal side only.

However, this article is misleading in saying that paternal grandmothers do not contribute to their grandson's gene pool. That is incorrect, scientifically. A male child could inherit (the good and the bad, quirky traits, health risks, etc) from all four grandparents.
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This article is crap! It doesn't matter where the chromosomes come from. Paternal grandparents love and care for and are as close to their grandchildren as are the maternal grandparents. I have both grandchildren from my son and a grandchild from my daughter. I see no difference. I feel no different. I dont feel they treat me any differently!
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yes. I had chance to be close with my maternal grandma. My paternal grandma died before my birth. So i don't have experience with her. Like that my daughters. My grandchildren also with me. They are more attached to me.. i agree
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My maternal grand mother passed away when I was just 2 years old, so I didn't get the chance to know her. My paternal grand parents were really close to me and my other siblings. Since my dad was the only son of his parents, they wanted him to live with them after he married my mother, so we were a joint family. We lived on the top floor of our house, and my grand parents lived on the ground floor. We had lunch and dinner together every day on the ground floor with my grand parents, that's the reason why we were so close to them, and received so much love and attention from them
My grandmother was an excellent cook. She would take a lot of trouble to make o very special lunch and dinner every day. We had a cook always, but she would tell him how she wanted each dish prepared. She spent a lot of time making sure that everyone at home was happy and satisfied with whatever she did. Her cake making, deserts and pies were out of this world. She was such a giving, loving person, that so many of our relatives would drop in just before lunch, because they knew they would be most welcome in our house. I remember my grand mother for her very caring and thoughtful ways. She looked after us so lovingly and everyone who knew her, loved her for her giving and caring nature. Till today, there are so many who have had the good fortune of knowing her and her generosity, will never fail to mention about the special food she cooked for them, or how she always went out of her way to make people happy.
My grandmother was very, very special. A rare and precious gem of a person. She is missed by many.
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