To what extent are grandparents involved with their grandchildren, how does this involvement change during adolescence, and what are the implications of grandparent involvement for youth? With an increase in life expectancy and an increase in the number of children living in single-parent households, the role of grandparents in the lives of children has become more salient. This William T. Grant Scholar’s study sought to understand these relationships and their impact on youth transitions and outcomes. Dunifon drew her secondary data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 Cohort, and the National Survey of Families and Households, focusing on ways in which non-resident grandparents influence youth, and on the well-being of children living with a single mother and a grandparent. She also has collected unique multi-method data on a sample of 59 New York adolescents who are being raised by their grandparents, investigating the role of parents in such families, the grandparent-grandchild relationship quality, and sources of risk and resilience. Using qualitative, survey and videotaped observational data, results point to health problems of both the grandparent and grandchild, as well as difficulties faced by older grandparents, as sources of risk. Sources of resilience include grandparental religiosity, as well as grandparental reports of increasing maturity, wisdom, and perspective as they parent for the second time. A key factor influencing the grandparent/teen relationship appears to be the child’s relationship with his/her parents. Most children in the study saw their parents on a regular basis. However, contact with parents often does not go smoothly, and can impact the grandparent-grandchild relationship in many ways. Dunifon is working with community educators to translate the results of her research to policies and programs designed to meet the needs of grandparents raising grandchildren.
To what extent are grandparents involved with their grandchildren, how does this involvement change during adolescence, and what are the implications of grandparent involvement for youth?