Parenting and co-parenting of grandchildren: Effects on grandparents' well-being and family solidarity

Roseann Giarrusso, du Feng, Qian wei Wang, Merril D Silverstein

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Increasing numbers of grandparents are raising their grandchildren because of problems within the parental generation such as drug and alcohol addiction, AIDS, divorce, and unemployment. Yet little is known about how grandparents who “parent” or “co-parent” then-grandchildren differ from other grandparents, or the extent to which parenting or co-parenting grandchildren affects grandparent's psychological, physical, or financial well-being, or feelings of family solidarity. The purpose of this research is to: (1) compare the characteristics of grandparents who go on to parent or co-parent their grandchildren to grandparents who do not, and (2) assess the effects of entering the two caregiving arrangements — parenting and co-parenting — on changes in grandparent's psychological, physical, and financial well-being, as well as their feelings of family solidarity. The data for this study came from 659 grandparents from the USC Longitudinal Study of Generations (LSG) who participated in at least two consecutive waves of data collection measured at three year intervals between 1985 to 1994: parenting grandparents (N = 12), co-parenting grandparents (N = 27), and non-parenting grandparents (N = 620). Analysis of the quantitative data reveals that grandparents who parent or co-parent their grandchildren tend to be younger and less healthy than non-parenting grandparents. Contrary to expectation, the data also indicate that there is no statistically significant decline in psychological, physical, or financial well-being, nor in normative or marital solidarity after grandparents begin to caregive. Although the majority of grandparents show stability or improvement in overall psychological well-being, some show decline. The qualitative data suggests that the extent to which grandparents can choose their level of involvement in caregiving influences and the age of the grandchild, whether they experience caregiving as positive or negative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-154
Number of pages31
JournalInternational Journal of Sociology and Social Policy
Volume16
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)

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