They've long since been the source of emergency childcare, words of wisdom and knitted goods at Christmas, and now a new survey has revealed that grandparents have never been so important to their grandchildren.
Whilst our own parents' memories of their nan and grandad are probably nothing more than black and white – or even sepia – images in a long forgotten photo album, today's20 and 30-somethings not only have close relationships with their grandparents, they also hold them in very high esteem.
In research carried out by Wood's 100 Old Navy Rum, people in their twenties and thirties see their grandparents as role models, even going so far as to brand their grandad 'a hero'. When asked what they'd most like to unearth about their parents' parents in their family tree, 30 per cent of respondents said a naval war hero, followed by 20 per cent who wanted to discover an inventor in the family line.
In contrast, only half those of 65 or over feel the same way, and similarly, whilst most young people under 25s are proud of their grandfathers, less than a quarter of those aged over 65 feel the same.
And whilst most pensioners (60%) said they didn't know their grandfather at all, only a quarter of people under 25s say the same. In fact, amongst the younger generation, such is the need to keep family history alive, more than two-thirds of people under 35 are keen to name their children after one or more of their own parents – compared to just over two-fifths of people over 65 that had considered or done it.
So how important are grandparents to a family? Last month, a study by the charity Grandparents Plus, the Beth Johnson Foundation and the Institute of Gerontology at Kings College London, revealed that one in three mothers in the UK rely on grandparents to provide childcare, and other research has shown that more adults are turning to their grandparents for financial help than ever before – a recent report from Key Retirement Solutions, an equity release firm, suggested that many grandparents were releasing money from their homes to help their families with living expenses, school fees, mortgages, marriages or medical bills.
Other research has found around a fifth of grandparents are feeling the pinch of shelling out for their grandchildren and families; another report found that 42 per cent - around five million grandparents - said they'd been forced to tighten their belts and cut their own spending. The findings, from the grandparents' website BeGrand.net, revealed a majority of grandparents regularly spend their retirement cash on clothing, toys and other treats for their grandchildren, with almost a quarter describing it as a significant financial burden. Because of this, 42 per cent - around five million grandparents - said they had been forced to tighten their belts and cut their own spending.
However, despite seemingly being ready and willing Banks of Nan and Grandad, four out of five grandparents said their grandchildren were spoilt, compared to when they were young...
What do you think?
Do we rely on our parents to much to look after our kids, or to bail us out financially?
Or is that what grandparents are there for?