Do the types of caregiver support make a difference?

Well, this Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) study thinks so.

In Singapore, where there is a growing trend for grandparents and domestic helpers to be involved in childcare due to the need for dual-income households, this question comes to mind.

This timely study comes as a guide for parents who are unsure about how to approach reducing the practical and emotional burdens of childcare.

Mother’s Parental Warmth Enhances with Childcare Support by Maternal Grandparent, Study Finds
Photo: Unsplash (Jessica Hearn)

Maternal Grandparents Are Most Aligned

Through analysing data from 615 mother-child pairs enrolled in the Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) cohort study, the study found that Mothers who receive childcare support from maternal grandparents show more parental warmth than mothers who do not receive any support.

These mothers engaged in less frequent authoritarian (strict and controlling) parenting when the child’s maternal grandparents stepped in to help. This means they are more likely to engage in positive parenting characterised by warmth, responsiveness and a stimulating home environment.  

Interestingly, the study did not find evidence to support an association between support from other types of caregiving arrangements – paternal grandparents, both maternal and paternal grandparents or domestic helpers – and the abovementioned positive parenting approaches in mothers.

But does this mean other support is not as helpful?

“While maternal grandparents, paternal grandparents, and domestic helpers all have the potential to provide instrumental assistance and emotional encouragement when it comes to childcare duties, our study found that childcare support from maternal grandparents was the most beneficial,” explained Associate Professor Setoh Peipei from the Psychology division at NTU’s School of Social Sciences.

He added that maternal grandparents are uniquely positioned to provide support in a manner most aligned with the needs of mothers, possibly due to shared values and ease of communication.

What is GUSTO

Set up in 2009, GUSTO (Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes) is a nationwide birth cohort study involving collaborators from KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), the National University Health System (NUHS), National University of Singapore (NUS), and Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS).

It is a longitudinal study of Singaporean mothers and their offspring. Since its inception, the study has recruited 1,247 Singaporean pregnant women as volunteers. These volunteers are studied extensively during their pregnancy, and their offspring are closely followed up as they grow up.

GUSTO aims to understand how conditions during pregnancy and early childhood may affect the mothers’ and children’s health, growth and development, as well as metabolic, neurodevelopmental and other conditions – all of which are of major public health and economic importance in Asia and around the globe.

[Editor Note: Parents, while this study shows that maternal support encourages positive parenting and parental warmth, every bit of support helps – no matter whether maternal, paternal or domestic helper.]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *