Primary and secondary stressors of grandparents raising grandchildren: Evidence from a national survey

R. Giarrusso, D. Feng, M. Silverstein, A. Marenco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Quantitative data from a national survey were used to compare grandparents raising grandchildren (n = 146) to their noncaregiving counterparts (n = 774) on several measures of psychological well-being. The results revealed that caregiving grandparents (either current, recent, or past) did not differ from noncaregiving grandparents on four out of five measures of psychological well-being. In addition, caregiving grandparents actually scored higher in self-rated performance as a grandparent than noncaregiving grandparents. Qualitative data collected on the caregiving grandparents were examined in an effort to interpret these results. These data allowed for an assessment of the primary and secondary stressors grandparents encountered while raising their grandchildren and an examination of the relationship between primary stressors and grandparents: (a) levels of caregiver stress, and (b) psychological well-being. The primary or initial stressors reported by caregiving grandparents included: the needs of the grandchild (14%); the grandparents' desire to help (16%); the addictive, illegal, or lethal behavior of the parent (22%); and other behaviors of the parent (64%). The secondary stressors the grandparents reported included: discipline or emotional problems of the grandchild (25%); aspects of the situation (44%); and negative interactions with the parent (5%). The results revealed a relationship between the two types of stressors: caregiving grandparents who cited addictive, illegal, or lethal behaviors of the parent as a primary stressor were significantly more likely to cite discipline or emotional problems of the grandchild as a secondary stressor. The results also showed that type of primary stressor was related to grandparents' stress levels and psychological well-being: caregiving grandparents whose primary stressor was the addictive, illegal, or lethal behaviors of the parent reported significantly higher levels of caregiver stress and negative affect than caregiving grandparents who did not cite this type of primary stressor. The results are discussed in terms of the stress process model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-310
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Mental Health and Aging
Volume6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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