Is it better to be a grandmother than a mother? | Ed Cumming

Why does the sternest of British matriarchs turn to puree when confronted with her children’s young, wonders a rookie parent

On Thursday morning I sent my mother a WhatsApp message. “Entertaining discussion on Radio 4 about how it’s better being a grandmother than a mother,” I wrote. She didn’t reply. It is not easy being a son.

On the Today programme, Amol Rajan and Sheila Hancock had been discussing a study by anthropologists in Atlanta, Georgia, which found that grandmothers may be more emotionally connected to their grandchildren than their children. The researchers showed 50 women pictures of their biological grandchildren, the child’s parents and random children and adults, and watched the effect it had on their brains. When the grandmothers looked at the grandchildren, the part of their brain associated with “cognitive empathy” lit up. We don’t know which part of the brain lit up when they saw their children. Have scientists even identified the part associated with contempt and regret?

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