A qualitative study on the perspectives of Turkish mothers and grandmothers in the Netherlands regarding the influence of grandmothers on health related practices in the first 1000 days of a child’s life

Gülcan Bektas, Femke Boelsma, Meryem Gündüz, Eva N. Klaassen, Jacob C. Seidell, Carline L. Westdorp, S. Coosje Dijkstra

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Abstract

Background
Given the importance of the first 1000 days of a child’s life in terms of laying the foundations for healthy growth and development, parents are a logical target group for supporting health-related practices with regard to young children. However, little attention is paid to the influence of the wider social community on the health and development of young children during this crucial period. This includes grandmothers, who often have a significant influence on health-related practices of their grandchildren. The aim of this study was therefore to explore the influence of grandmothers on health related practices of their grandchildren during the first 1000 days, from the perspectives of both grandmothers and mothers with a Turkish background.

Method
This qualitative study in the Netherlands collected data during focus group discussions with grandmothers (N = 3), interviews with grandmothers (N = 18) and interviews with mothers (N = 16), all with a Turkish background. Data was collected in the period between June 2019 and April 2021 and analysed using a thematic content analysis.

Results
The influence of grandmothers and the wider social community on health related practices during the first 1000 days of a child’s life is substantial and self-evident. The support of grandmothers is often rooted in various socio-cultural norms and practices. The mothers of young children can experience the guidance and pressure they receive from grandmothers and the wider social community as quite stressful. Conflicting views and practices tend to arise between grandmothers and mothers when a grandmother babysits. Both mothers and grandmothers often find it difficult to discuss these differences openly, for fear this might lead to a family conflict.

Conclusion
This study shows that grandmothers and the wider social community play an influential role in supporting a healthy first 1000 days of a child’s life. The strong involvement of grandmothers may lead to tension between the mothers and grandmothers when their ideas about healthy practices are not in agreement and may lead to unhealthy practices. In targeting this wider social community, it is important to consider the various socio-cultural factors that underlie the advice, support, practices and beliefs of the individuals involved.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1364
Number of pages14
JournalBMC Public Health
Volume22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2022

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