chapter  9
22 Pages

Young Adults’ Per cep tions of Liv ing with Their Grand par ents Dur ing Childhood

Grandparents are often overlooked as key members of the family system (Bengston, 2001), but a growing literature indicates they can be influential in their grandchildren’s development (e.g., Dunifon, 2013; Silverstein, Giarrusso, and Bengtson, 1998). Much of this research has focused on whether grandchildren live in the same household as a grandparent in either multigenerational households (e.g., Gleeson, Strozier, and Littlewood, 2011) or in custodial grandparent households (e.g., Pinazo-Hernandis and Tompkins, 2009). However, typically in these studies it is just the presence or absence of the grandparent in the home that is considered and not other characteristics of the grandparents’ involvement. Research has considered specific aspects of grandparent involvement when the grandparents are not living in the home. For example, how close grandchildren feel to their grandparents or the level of emotional support they receive has been found to be important (e.g., Sheehan and Petrovic, 2008; Van Ranst, Verschueren, and Marcoen, 1995). The level of grandparents’ investment through time and money also has sometimes been considered (e.g., Coall and Hertwig, 2013; Haxton and Harknett, 2009). Mentioned, but rarely examined, are how grand - parents may serve as teachers of family traditions, morals, and values (Mahne and Huxhold, 2012; Silverstein et al., 1998). Thus, considering whether these and other specific factors are viewed as important in both multigenerational and custodial grandparent households will help increase our understanding of how living in these households influences children and adolescents as they grow up. Census data suggests it is becoming increasingly common for children to live with their grandparents. Between 2008 and 2010, about 5.2 million children in the United States (7%) lived with their grandparents, which is an increase from previous years (Murphey, Cooper, and Moore, 2012). About two-thirds of these

households are multigenerational households, where both the parent and grand - parent live in the home, while the remaining one third are custodial grandparent households, where the parent generation is not in the home (Vespa, Lewis, and Kreider, 2013). Fuller-Thomson, Minkler, and Driver (1997), however, suggest these statistics are only snapshots of current living situations and do not reflect the number of children who have ever lived with a grandparent. Specifically, they found that 11% of grandparents indicated in the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) that they have had primary responsibility for raising a grandchild for a period of at least 6 months. Given these trends, there is a growing literature considering how living with grandparents may influence the grandchildren’s well-being.