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The Role of Grandparents in the Lives of Adolescent Grandchildren

Principal Investigator: Rachel Dunifon
The Role of Grandparents in the Lives of Adolescent Grandchildren

This project is funded through the William T. Grant Foundation Scholars Program. Several recent trends have increased the salience of the role of grandparents in the lives of their grandchildren. Life expectancy has increased from less than 50 years in 1900 to almost 80 years in 2000, meaning that more grandparents are able to enjoy sustained relationships with their grandchildren into adolescence and adulthood. Increasing numbers of children are living without both biological parents in the household; grandparents may play a particularly important role in for these children. Finally, a new phenomenon is just beginning to be understood by researchers: grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. Research is needed to better understand the implications of this living arrangement for child well-being.

This study addresses the following questions:

  1. How are grandparents involved in the lives of adolescent grandchildren? What roles do grandparents play in providing financial assistance, co-residing with grandchildren, and providing emotional support?
  2. What differences do grandparents make in the lives of their grandchildren, particularly those in a single-parent family? What factors mediate the influence of grandparents on grandchildren?
  3. What are the sources of risk and resilience in families in which grandchildren are being raised by a grandparent?