Main content

Why grandparents are important

When a parent dies why do grandparents step in and raise their grandchildren? Is it simply because they may be the next of kin or are grandparents hardwired to help?

Asked to describe your grandparents, you may conjure fond childhood memories of trips to the park or going round for your favourite dinner after school. You may live just around the corner and see your grandparents daily or they might be a welcome voice on the phone, brightening your day from afar.

Elaine Chong discovers just why it is that grandparents matter so much to us and she finds out what happens when grandparents step in to raise their grandchildren.

In the township of Umlazi, near Durban in South Africa, she meets a group of grandmothers who are raising their grandchildren singlehandedly, after the children lost their parents in the Aids pandemic.
She uncovers research showing grandmothers have played a vital role in the survival of their grandchildren for centuries, especially before modern medicine and support services existed.
She hears the incredible story of an 11-year-old boy who is being raised by his grandparents and repays their devotion, by saving his grandad’s life.
Have you ever stopped to consider why your grandparents hold such a dear place in your heart?
Elaine hears evidence all those childhood visits, trips and gatherings play an important and lasting role in shaping our personalities.

Presenter: Elaine Chong
Producers: Ben Robinson, Nicola Dowling and Carl Johnston
Editor: Andy Smith

(Photo:Grandmother’s at the Community Centre, Umlazi, South Africa. Credit Nkosinathi Shange)

Available now

24 minutes

Last on

Tue 19 Nov 2019 03:32GMT


  • Mon 18 Nov 2019 09:06GMT
  • Mon 18 Nov 2019 13:32GMT
  • Mon 18 Nov 2019 18:06GMT
  • Mon 18 Nov 2019 21:06GMT
  • Mon 18 Nov 2019 23:06GMT
  • Tue 19 Nov 2019 02:32GMT
  • Tue 19 Nov 2019 03:32GMT

Get the podcast

Get the podcast

Subscribe or download individual episodes for free

Why do we look the way we do?

Why do we look the way we do?

Tattoos, trainers, jeans, hair, ties ... why?