Scholars have demonstrated that the family provides identity, support, and social integration throughout life. One common family experience of middle and later adulthood is grandparenthood. The 1980's has witnessed increased research on grandparenting; however, important questions remain. Many of these questions concern the contribution of grandparenting to mental health, or psychological well-being. As grandparenthood now spans most of middle and later adulthood, understanding the psychological benefits of the experience could enhance general understanding of well-being in this period of life. The goal of the proposed research is to identify dimensions of grandparenting experience which predict levels of psychological well-being, while controlling for the grandparent's relationship with grandchildren's parents and for demographic characteristics. The participants will be 300 noninstitutionalized, Caucasian grandparents; each will be questioned about their relationship with one specified grandchild. At least 100 will be grandfathers; approximately half will be maternal grandparents of the specified grandchild. Each will participate in a 2-3 hour interview covering their relationship with the specified grandchild, their relationships with that grandchild's parents, their psychological well-being, the demographic background, and characteristics of their family. Canonical correlation and factor analysis will be used to examine associations among characteristics of the grandparent's relationship with the grandchild. Multiple regression will be used to identify characteristics of the grandparent's relationship with the grandchild, of their relationship with that grandchild's parents, and demographic and family characteristics which significantly predict levels of psychological well-being. Findings of the proposed research could contribute to a comprehensive theory of the mental health benefits of grandparenthood, and provide pilot data for a longitudinal study of grandparent-grandchild relationships and the psychological benefits of these bonds for grandparent and grandchild. Findings of the proposed research could also be useful to clinicians serving middle aged and older individuals and/or multigenerational families.
|Thomas, J L (1989) Gender and perceptions of grandparenthood. Int J Aging Hum Dev 29:269-82|