The increasing numbers of grandparents providing primary care for their grandchildren in the United States continues to pose an enormous challenge for clinicians. Ongoing research suggests that grandparent caregivers (GPCs) are confronted with a large number of practical and psychological difficulties in caring for their grandchildren—age-congruent life tasks are interfered with, fulfilling aspects of the grandparenting role are obstructed, and GPCs report greater levels of stress, physical illness, alcoholism, smoking, anxiety, and depression. However, not all individuals suffer as greatly and some report deriving meaningful benefits from their grandparenting experience. In an exploratory study of 85 grandmothers raising their grandchildren, grandparents engaged in benefit finding with resulting benefits for their psychological and physical health. Consequently, while research documenting the problems confronting GPCs is important, an exclusive emphasis on the negative obscures an understanding of the benefits that may inhere. Because the literature on GPCs has focused on negative outcomes, we know little about who benefits, how they benefit, why they benefit, or implications for these potential differences. This chapter examined several bodies of literature germane to the GPCs' experience, offers evidence of both positive and negative valance experiences of GPCs and advances a practice framework for a positive and at least balanced orientation towards clinical practice with GPCs.
Adversity, no less than prosperity, can change us for better as well as for worse(Affeck & Tennen, 1996)