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.
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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 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.