Consequences of the Slave Grandparent Syndrome

Overwhelmed families can make grandparents feel stressed out, leading to serious imbalances, both emotionally and physically. This is what we call the slave grandparent syndrome.
Consequences of the Slave Grandparent Syndrome

Last update: 10 June, 2019

The slave grandparent syndrome is a new disease in the 21st century. In fact, the WHO recognizes it as a type of abuse toward the role of grandparents.

Of course, most grandparents love getting to help raise and care for their grandchildren. They feel like they get to be parents again, but warmer and more affectionate.

However, as families grow, they often get more stressed. Grandchildren grow up, and so do their needs. Additionally, caretakers need to do more every day.

Grandparents in the 21st century

Today, family relationships in our society have changed a lot. Only a few decades ago, being a grandparent before age 50 was very common. Nowadays, people are becoming parents much later. Now, it’s more common to be a grandparent at around age 70.

Without a doubt, the relationships of grandparents and grandchildren can be very different from each other. They depend on several factors, like relationships with their children, where they live, the children’s attitudes, and culture.

In some families, grandparents can play an important role in raising grandchildren. Depending on family circumstances, grandparents might be needed sometimes or more frequently.

Consequences of the Slave Grandparent Syndrome

When it comes to occasional or special moments, there are no major problems in grandparents’ family lives. However, they can feel very stressed out if they’re constantly needed.

What is the slave grandparent syndrome?

The slave grandparent syndrome is a serious illness that affects men and women who are subjected to a physical and emotional overload. Therefore, it causes serious and progressive imbalances, both in their mind and body.

For cardiologist Antonio Guijarro, this is very common, especially in adult women who are housewivesThese women have a strict sense of order, responsibility, dignity and modesty.

Grandparents’ feeling of commitment

The psychologist Encarnación Liñán has some answers as to why some grandparents feel so committed to this situation that they feel like it’s their own.

To her, education and values are the main reason why grandparents feel responsible to keep supporting their grandchildren and family. She also believes that it’s a way for grandparents to keep feeling useful. Grandparents often worry about feeling useless.

Consequences of the slave grandparent syndrome: how does it affect their health?

Encarnación Liñán states two types of health problems in grandparents who suffer from slave grandparent syndrome: physical and emotional.

For the physical issues, Liñán says high blood pressure, attacks like tachycardia, hot flashes, dizziness, etc, and weakness which leads to fatigue.

Consequences of the Slave Grandparent Syndrome

As for the emotional effects, grandparents feel bad overall. They feel anxious when they can’t handle a situation. They also feel sad and discouraged, caused by lack of motivation in themselves. All of these feelings just make them suffer more because they feel guilty for being uncomfortable.

“Love is the greatest gift that one generation can give to another.”

–Richard Garnett–

Grandparents, a great support you need to take care of

Currently, there are multiple factors for this overload situation to happen. The economic crisis has caused many households to need grandparents as an economic resource.

Therefore, grandparents are a support for many families. While parents are working, it’s much cheaper and more convenient to leave children with grandparents.

For all this, you need to find the balance between responsibilities and abilities. Then, you can avoid physical and emotional problems that could definitely harm their health.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Guijarro, A. (2001). El síndrome de la abuela esclava. Grupo editorial universitario. España: Madrid.
  • Liñán, E. (2003). El síndrome de la abuela esclava. España:

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.