Divorce, cohabitation, remarriage, serial romantic partnerships, and living apart together have been relatively common among these older age groups. Stepfamily research has expanded in recent decades, but most of the focus has been on younger stepfamilies, with primary emphasis placed on relationships between stepparents and stepchildren or remarried spouses. Initially, Ganong and Coleman identified three structural pathways to becoming a stepgrandparent: a younger adult could (re)marry a parent with young children or adolescents who would grow up to become parents themselves as adults; an older adult could (re)marry a grandparent; and an older individual’s adult child could (re)marry a person who brings to the union children from a prior relationship. Given that parents often tend to mediate the relationships among grandparents and grandchildren, it is not surprising that parents’ divorce affects grandparent–grandchild relationships. It is somewhat surprising that few researchers have examined divorce by grandparents.
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Despite the growing attention in the literature addressing the experiences of lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender (LBGT) youth and family acceptance, few researchers are examining these experiences in the relational context of being a grandchild or how grandparent–grandchild relationships enhance or hinder LGBT grandchildren’s experiences, especially when grandchildren disclose their sexual orientation to grandparents. This chapter discusses the important theoretical lenses used to understand and aids the study of LGB grandparenthood and reviews the literature on LGB grandparenthood and when grandchildren identify as lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, and queer (LBGTQ). Perhaps more importantly to the advancement of the literature on LGB grandparenting, the chapter provides recommendations for future research on grandparenthood in the context of sexual orientation, and hopes that discussion is a call to action for family scientists, gerontologists, psychologists, and sociologists to closely examine grandparenthood when grandparents, grandchildren, or grandchildren’s parents identify as LGBTQ.
This book brings together the work of experts from a variety of fields such as adult development, adult education, family science, family therapy and counseling, gerontology, psychology, social work, and sociology. It is organized into four sections, each of which contains chapters reflecting a given theme as it pertains to grandparenting. Section one explores the breadth of the grandparent role from multiple theoretical perspectives, explores both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies in the study of grandparenting. It examines cohort effects and emphasizes the multigenerational developmental contexts in which grandparents and grandchildren are situated. In addition, it presents variations on grandparenting: grandfathers, great-grandparenting, and step-grandparents. Section two focuses on the diversity among grandparents, examining such issues as variations in sexual orientation in such persons, grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, and changing gender roles among grandparents. Section three examines the difficulties and challenges that grandparents face in enacting their roles as well as the resources and strengths they bring to bear. It discusses the impact of having to cope with both acute and chronic illness on intergenerational relationships, the design and implementation of interventions to positively affect emotional functioning. It discusses the clinical case study approaches to helping grandparents, resilience and resourcefulness in the face of stress. Section four emphasizes the societal and cultural aspects of grandparenting, exploring issues of race and ethnicity, grandparent education, global grandparenting, and many dimensions of social policy as they relate to grandparents. The last chapter pulls the material together in presenting a multidimensional, multileveled, and dynamic picture of grandparenting stressing the influence of evolving historical and interpersonal contexts on such persons and their grandchildren. It also offers suggestions for future research over the next two decades.
Adult education is available in many communities. These opportunities are welcome, although courses rarely focus on family relationships, the topic that has the highest priority among grandparents. An intergenerational strategy is lacking that would allow parents of grandchildren, and the grandchildren, to identify content they think could help grandparents understand younger relatives. This chapter describes the origins of grandparent education and a measurement tool that allows three generations to evaluate strengths, learning needs, and growth of grandparents. It briefly describes an inclusive plan to ensure grandparents living in care facilities have access to instruction, feedback on learning, and opportunity to engage in community service. The chapter respects for cultural differences based on identification of curriculum themes that match the uniqueness of particular populations. It provides a revised emphasis for adult education that focuses on family relationships, the topic with highest priority among grandparents.
This concluding chapter discusses grandparenthood and provides a brief description about the book. In this book, authors have presented multiple perspectives bearing on a deeper, multileveled understanding of grandparenthood, including the cultural/historical, developmental, ecological, cultural and cross-cultural dimensions, as well as from a clinical/family systems perspective. It attempts to understand the current and changing nature of grandparenthood, including the impact of changing historical and interpersonal contexts as well as the diverse roles that grandparents perform in families. Indeed, families today are different than before. With the increase in longevity and life expectancy leading to greater expansion of research on aging and the family, coupled with the growth of the grandparenthood literature, it is clear from the chapters in the book. The chapter concludes with future directions.
The chapter provides a brief summary on the demographic impact and trends regarding grandparents in the United States. It reviews the current knowledge and available evidence associated with grandparent practices and values among grandparents of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. The chapter encourages future research regarding multigenerational relations, grandparenting, and the development of culturally tailored interventions. It pays serious attention to the role of culture on the experience of grandparenthood and the provision of care to grandchildren. However, the chapter considers culture as the specific medium where the meanings and practices of relationships and interactions among grandparents, their adult children, and grandchildren develop at a particular place and time. The chapter considers grandparenting to be a developmental transition where cultural practices are part of the larger sociocultural ecological system.
This chapter focuses on the clinical treatment of four impaired grandfamilies in rural areas. The approach and experience are similar to grandfamilies in urban areas, especially inner cities, but their social/economic situation may be more desperate and culturally enhanced, and with few resources. The first case study involves the treatment of a child from a toddler through his adolescent years the lens is on resilience. The second one looks at grandfamilies from a family systems approach. The third explores the impact of early trauma and transgenerational influences on the adult children and grandchildren. The fourth case study examines the role of the judicial system and the need for clinicians to advocate in the courts on behalf of grandfamilies. In all four of the cases, the chapter implements a holistic, but personalized, approach to mitigate the negative impact of substance- and alcohol-use disorders, family abuse, transgenerational effects, and cultural influences.
- Go to chapter: Grandparent–Grandchild Relationships: A Proposed Mutuality Model With a Focus on Young Children and Adolescents
Grandparent–Grandchild Relationships: A Proposed Mutuality Model With a Focus on Young Children and Adolescents
This chapter aims to more fully develop the often-overlooked observation that the grandparent and grandchild relationship is a mutual one. It focuses on conceptual model of the grandparent–grandchild relationships that one developed based on a linked-lives perspective, on their lived experience, their past research, and a careful review of the existing literature. In this model, it show that grandparent proactivity and grandchild–grandparent mutuality are essential features of a constructively interdependent relationship. The chapter starts by introducing a new mutuality model of grandparent–grandchild relationships. It provides a brief historical overview of the evolution of literature on grandparent–grandchild relationships. The chapter reports on major empirical studies that address relationships between young or adolescent grandchildren and their grandparents. It offers an experiential context and humanize the discussion by adding some personal reflections regarding grandparent–grandchild relationships and mutuality across multiple generations of the author’s family.
- Go to chapter: Grandfathers: Are Their Roles Changing and Is This Having an Impact on Grandchildren?
This chapter summarizes much of what is known, from scholars across the world, about grandfathers: the nature of their roles, their involvement with grandchildren, the influence of culture, and the possible impact of such involvement on their grandchildren and on the older men themselves. Many factors have impacted the number and functional status of grandfathers. Over time grandfatherhood has been shaped by culture and tradition, social conditions, and attitudes to older men. In addition to the changing roles of grandfathers over time, grandfatherhood today is further mediated socially and culturally through ethnicity. The question arises: Why should grandfathers care? Although evolutionary theory may explain why grandmothers are involved with grandchildren, the evidence is missing or absent when it comes to grandfathers. A central feature of recent grandfather research has been a number of studies linking grandfather involvement with child well-being.
The phenomenon of four-generation families has become more prevalent in recent years, reaching relatively high percentages in the oldest age groups. In Israel, as well in other developed countries, life expectancy has increased, and the phenomenon of four- and even five-generation families is more common. Many studies have examined the role and the significance of grandparenthood, and its contribution to the quality of life of both generations, the grandparents and the grandchildren. However, only few studies, most of them conducted in the United States, have examined the significance of great-grandparenthood, and the relations between great-grandparents and their great-grandchildren. This chapter describes the perception of the role and meaningfulness of Israeli Jewish great-grandparents: a comparison between the perceptions of great-grandparents and grandparents about their role and about their relationships with their great-grandchildren and their grandchildren, and its contribution to their quality of life.
This chapter explores content-specific, design-specific, and data-analytic issues in grandfamily and grandparenting research using four approaches: quantitative methods, qualitative methods, mixed-methods research, and emergent research designs. Existing grandparent research will illustrate best practices with inclusion of research issues specifically encountered by grandfamily researchers—for example, recruitment and retention concerns and legal/ethical issues when working with intergenerational groups. The chapter offers strategies to address age–period–cohort effects, and grandparent research designs at the intraindividual, grandparent–grandchild dyads, and grandparent–child–grandchild dyads in family system and societal or structural levels. It includes specific guidelines for reporting each type of research. The chapter concludes with new, cutting-edge approaches being used in grandparenting research and ideas for future research.
This chapter provides an overview of clinical issues unique to grandparenthood and outlines specific approaches to clinical intervention that may be used to address these issues. Having a theoretical foundation for intervention is imperative, as theories provide the conceptual framework necessary for understanding the development and maintenance of grandparents’ presenting problems. Four major theoretical approaches to clinical intervention with grandparents are intergenerational, developmental, systemic, and problem solving theories. The chapter provides an overview of these major types of theories as a means of illustrating how different theoretical perspectives would differentially inform clinical intervention with grandparents. While interventions focused on grandparents continue to be underdeveloped relative to many other populations and family difficulties, common intervention approaches include providing grandparents with emotional and social support, teaching new skills, delivering information and resources, and promoting intergenerational engagement.
This chapter explores the experience of grandparents and grief by: the death loss of a grandchild; the loss of the traditional grandparent– grandchild relationship due to grandparents’ assuming primary custody of the grandchild; and the loss of emotional connection with grandchild due to separation. It begins by examining the current sociohistorical context of grandparenting, followed by discussion of relevant theories of loss. The chapter reviews research on grandparents’ various experiences of grief, and conclude with presenting models of intervention with recommendations for therapy. Grandparenting literature highlights the importance of focusing more on what is gained than lost from changes out of one’s control. In this spirit, this chapter focuses on the reintegrative aspects of grief, exploring authentic experiences of grandparents while highlighting mechanisms that contribute to the construction or reconstruction of a new sense of normalcy and hope for the future.
Resilience is the capacity to bounce back—to face, manage, overcome, and be strengthened by adversity. Grandparenting represents a role that requires resilience. We tend to think that grandparents have meaningful relationships with their children and with their grandchildren. Grandparents must also adapt to a changing social and technological landscape, learning new rules for (grand)parenting, and developing an understanding of both changes in recommended child-rearing practices and new social challenges. In their relationship with grandchildren, grandparents may be raising grandchildren, living with them in a multigenerational home, or living apart from them and providing baby-sitting, financial assistance, or even no support to them or their parents This chapter reviews the conceptualization of resilience, then of resourcefulness, a specific indicator of resilience, and related grandparenting and family research to provide examples, context, and further considerations.
This chapter addresses a metaframework for conceptualizing global grandparenting. With this metaframework, it suggests four primary domains that can be used to understand grandparenthood from a contextualized, global perspective: culture, familial and social roles, solidarity and intergenerational transfers, and sociopolitical factors. While some aspects of grandparenthood may be best represented by one domain, the nuances of global grandparenthood are truly captured in the intersections among the domains, such that each domain influences—and is influenced by—the others. Through examination of the unique combinations and intersections of these four domains, it is then possible to explain the similarities and differences in grandparent experiences across global contexts. The chapter presents each of the domains of our metaframework and highlight associated literature for the purposes of illustrating the global variation within that particular domain. It concludes with reflections on directions for future research.
This chapter addresses nonfamilial intergenerational relationships that allow youth and elders to experience grandparent-like relationships when grandparents or grandchildren may not be available to each other. It begins with consideration of contemporary demographic, structural, and historical influences affecting availability of familial intergenerational relationships, such as delayed marriage and fertility. The chapter turns to theories addressing the imperative of intergenerational relationships, including among unrelated individuals. Theories focused on individual development, such as Erikson’s psychosocial theory, interpersonal relationships, such as social exchange theory, and community development, such as social network theory, are related to the potential value of nonfamilial intergenerational contact. The chapter concludes with recommendations for advancing nonfamilial intergenerational scholarship through research, practice, and policy. Beyond the young and old persons connected through nonfamilial intergenerational relationships, we aim to highlight why youth, families, and society need these relationships as well.
- Go to chapter: From the Classic to the Third Demographic Transition: Grandparenthood Across Three Cohorts in the United States
From the Classic to the Third Demographic Transition: Grandparenthood Across Three Cohorts in the United States
This chapter describes how demographic trends at different points of the U.S. history shape grandparenthood for the three cohorts of grandparents in distinctive ways. It discusses how the classic demographic transition, characterized by the dramatic decline in both fertility and mortality, accompanied by improved health and wellbeing of middle-aged and older adults, has resulted in increasing overlaps between grandparents’ and grandchildren’s lives for younger cohorts. The chapter addresses how the second demographic transition, namely, trends of increasing marital instability, nonmarital fertility, and single-parent households, has made grandparents–adult children–grandchildren bonds more complicated than ever. Finally, it reviews the impact of the third demographic transition, that is, the growing racial/ethnic and nativity diversity of the U.S. population has led to a more heterogeneous grandparent population for later cohorts in terms of composition and grandparenting experiences.
This chapter addresses the nature of theories used to guide and interpret the multifaceted issues associated with grandparenting. Family theories help to conceptualize both micro- and macrodimensions associated with grandparenting, including how identities and relationships at the microlevel interact with opportunities and disadvantages linked to broader social structures at the macrolevel. The chapter elaborates upon four common assumptions shared by theories that address family phenomena: developmental, diversity, systemic, and processual. It briefly describes six major family theories—family ecological, family systems, life course, social exchange, family stress and resiliency, and feminist theory and intersectionality. The chapter provides examples from the recent empirical literature about how these theories have been used in grandparenting research. Finally, it suggests that a key challenge for grandparenting scholars is to develop more comprehensive theoretical perspectives that can accommodate the increasing diversity of experience associated with this intergenerational family tie.
A gender-inclusive approach to studying grandparenthood can be enhanced by using a framework that combines elements of life-course, feminist, and critical perspectives along with the concept of ambivalence. Such a framework encourages researchers to examine the connection of larger social forces such as gender relations to the experience of grandparent–grandchild relationships over time. The inequality and contradictions that characterize institutional arrangements, such as gendered expectations regarding paid work and family responsibilities, are directly linked to the ways grandparents negotiate relationships with their children and grandchildren across the life course. This chapter outlines a conceptual framework for studying grandparenting in the context of gender relations. It applies to a critical review of the literature on grandparents. The chapter concludes by suggesting directions for future research.
- Go to chapter: Growing Old and Growing Up: Grandparents and their Adult Grandchildren in the Context of Multigenerational Families
Growing Old and Growing Up: Grandparents and their Adult Grandchildren in the Context of Multigenerational Families
This chapter provides a thematic overview of the literature concerning relationships between grandparents and their adult children, with an extension to the emergent topic of greatgrandparents. An empirical example from multigenerational data set is provided that highlights the mutuality and interconnections that cascade down the lineages of four-generation families where all generations consist of adults. The chapter discusses the change and continuity in grandparent–grandchild relationships with respect to contact, communication, closeness, and conflict. It also discusses the care provided to and by grandparents. The chapter focuses on gender and cultural variation in relationships between grandparents and adult grandchildren. It describes the unique family position of great-grandparents and their relationships with great-grandchildren. Finally the empirical example is provided examining patterns of change in the salience of great-grandparent, grandparent, and parent role identities.
This chapter reviews the grandparent–grandchild relationship when grandparents are healthy, when they contract chronic illness and are in need of care, and when they are in the process of dying. It includes the particular aspects of health because each has the potential to play an important role in the grandparent–grandchild relationship. For example, as some leisure activities require a certain level of physical ability, research on leisure and grandparent–grandchildren time together may reflect grandparents’ health. Finally, the cognitive health of grandparents may play a role in how grandparents and their grandchildren interact. The process of aging is associated with a broad range of unique and often simultaneous declines, including physical, cognitive, and psychological changes. As age-associated illnesses arise and develop there may be instances, although not common, where grandchildren are so involved in their grandparents’ life that they become a caregiver for their ill grandparent.
Given the many roles that grandparents play in lives of their grandchildren, policies can be critical factors in their support and in their familial relationships. This chapter explores key policies impacting grandparents and thus their grandchildren. It focuses on policies affecting kinship care, as grandparents face a multitude of issues that can impact both their own well-being and that of the children they are raising. As involved and committed grandparents may have been, their concerns are at risk of being ignored, as they must prove to court that their custody or visitation rights are in the child’s best interest. Among the most vulnerable are those who are raising their grandchildren on marginal incomes without adequate housing and healthcare, and who must deal with service providers insensitive to their concerns and needs. Finally, policies that address the needs of grandparents must provide a vital framework for strengthening both families and society.
Over the last decade, there has been tremendous growth in scholarly and professional interest in grandparents raising grandchildren. This chapter refers to grandparents who are raising their grandchildren as custodial grandparents and their families as grandfamilies. Despite the many negatives often linked to grandparent caregiving, such grandparents are dedicated to the welfare of their grandchildren, are resilient and resourceful in coping with the challenges of raising a grandchild, and must be understood in terms of the social–interpersonal, developmental, cultural, and policy-related contexts in which they care for grandchildren. Good physical health is also protective in nature for custodial grandparents, though not all research supports this conclusion. Relative to physical health, the mental health concerns of grandparents raising their grandchildren has received less attention. Life-span developmental theory emphasizes multiple antecedents of developmental change.