The decision by couples to have more children may be influenced by grandparents, a new study suggests.
A researcher in Finland looked at surveys carried out in eight European countries, including Northern Ireland, England, France, Norway and Lithuania.
The results revealed that a mother's decision to have a second or third child was linked to the level of practical help and emotional support they received from the children's grandparents.
The study noted that if the paternal grandparents already provided support, parents were more likely to have more children.
Meanwhile if the maternal grandparents provided support, children tended to have fewer emotional and behavioural problems.
The study did find some negative consequences however. Children whose primary childminder was their grandmother between the ages of nine months and three years, were more likely to be overweight at the age of three.
The researcher, Dr Antti O. Tanskanen of the University of Finland, added that while the study found that grandparents in Europe continue to be an essential part of the family, when it comes to political decisions around family policy, their significance goes unrecognised.
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