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Posted on June 12, 2012 by Christine Crosby in 

Grandparent Research

Included here,  is a listing of important research studies and publication as well as a research questionnaire (taken from “Grandparents/Grandchildren-The Vital Connection, ” Kornhaber and Woodward) that  many students and professionals exploring grandparenting today fnd helpful in developing their own grandparent research instruments..

Authors: Minkler, M., Fuller-Thomson, E. The health of grandparents raising grandchildren; results of a national study. American Journal of Public Health. 1999 Sep;89(9): 1384-9. This study compares the self-rated health of grandparents raising grandchildren with non-caregiving grandparents. Data analysis compared 173 custodial, and 3304 noncustodial grandparents in terms of functional health limitations, self-rated health and satisfaction with health. Results showed that custodial grandparents were significantly more likely to have limitations in 4 of the 5 activities of daily living examined. The authors conclude that further research into this issue is warranted.


Authors: Linda M. Drew, Mary H. Richard and Peter K. Smith. Title: GRANDPARENTING AND IT’S RELATIONSHIP TO PARENTING. Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths College, University of London, New Cross, London SE14 6NW, U.K. All three authors are at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Linda M. Drew has a masters degree from California State University, Northridge. She is currently a research associate and a graduate student researching grandparents emotional health and coping strategies when they lose contact with their grandchildren through parental separation or divorce. Mary Richard is a graduate student. She is researching aspects of inter-generational transmission as they relate to bully/victim status in adolescents. Peter K. Smith is Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths College. He is co-author of Understanding Children’s Development (Blackwells, 1997, 1988, 1991), and of Cooperation in the Multi-ethnic Classroom (David Fulton, 1994); editor of The Psychology of Grandparenthood (Routledge, 1991); and co-editor of School Bullying: Insights and Perspectives (Routledge, 1994), Tackling Bullying in your School (Routledge, 1994), and Theories of Theories of Mind (CUP, 1995). Grandparenthood occupies a significant part of the life cycle and it has a significant impact on parenting. This impact can be characterised in terms of gender roles, styles of grandparenting and indirect and direct patterns of grandparent-parent-grandchild influence. We review parenting styles and their relationship to recent insights in attachment theory which may illuminate processes of intergenerational transmission. Implications for practitioner use of attachment theory and categories of functional and dysfunctional grandparenting are presented. We discuss two related areas in which grandparent roles are particularly under stress, grandparents acting as custodial parents and grandparent-grandchild contact loss in cases of parental separation or divorce. Grandparents legal rights to visitation in the U.S.A. and U.K. and the use of mediation to help solve grandparent-grandchild contact loss are summarised. Linda Drew is on the advisory board of the Foundation or Grandparenting.


Author: Warner, Virginia et al. TITLE: Grandparents, Parents, and Grandchildren at High Risk for Depression; A Three Generation Study. SOURCE: Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; 38:3, March 1999 pg. 2889. Multigenerational studies can be clinically useful as they can provide information for risk prediction from one generation to another. This study shows that Major Depressive Disorder in grandparent and parent is associated with grandchild anxiety. Parental Major Depressive Disorder is associated with an increased risk for grandchild disruptive disorder. Children in families with multiple generations of depression are at particularly high risk for some form of psychopathology.


Author: Uhlenberg, Peter.; Hammill, Bradley G. TITLE: Frequency of grandparent contact with grandchild sets: six factors that make a difference. SOURCE: The Gerontologist v. 38 no3 (June ’98) p. 276-85 biblil. ABSTRACTS: Using data from the second wave of the National Survey of Families and Households, the authors examine the determinants of frequent and infrequent visiting between grandparents and their grandchild sets. A grandchild set consists of all the children of a particular child of the grandparent, provided that the grandchildren reside in their parent’s household. The 6 significant predictors of frequent or infrequent contact are geographic distance, quality of relationship between grandparent and parent of the grandchild set, number of grandchild sets, gender of grandparent, lineage of the grandchild set, and marital status of the grandparent.

AUTHOR: Gilbert, Susan. TITLE: Rising stress of raising a grandchild. SOURCE: New York Times (Late New York Edition) (July 28 ’98) . F7 il. ABSTRACTS: The full-time care of grandchildren can lead to health problems in the grandparents. Around 4 million U.S. children live in homes headed by a grandparent, a figure that has increased greatly in recent years due to substance abuse byparents, child neglect and abuse, and divorce. The emotional problems faced by these children can put a strain on grandparents who are trying to cope, and physicians are now starting to realize that the stress suffered by grandparents can lead to problems such as depression, anxiety, alcoholism, high blood pressure, and stroke. Furthermore, grandparents can often neglect their own health in favor of their grandchildren, particularly if money is an issue. Fortunately, there has been an explosion in support groups for grandparents raising grandchildren, where the grandparents can voice their concerns and learn to develop their inner strengths.

AUTHOR: Cohen, Philip. TITLE: Thanks Gran. (humans may owe their longevity to grandmothers). SOURCE: New Scientist v. 157 no2120 (Feb. 7 ’98) p. 14 ABSTRACTS: According to a new study carried out by researchers at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, humans may owe their longevity to grandmothers. By studying modern tribesthat subsist on wild foods, the researchers found that postmenopausal women with no children still gathered large quantities of food and often gave the surplus to their own grandchildren. This would have helped humans to compete against species with self-sufficient young and could also explain why humans live so long. The researchers also suggest that the late maturity and small size at weaning that have evolved in humans were driven by grandmothers.

AUTHOR: Somary, Karen.; Stricker, George TITLE: Becoming a grandparent: a longitudinal study of expectations and early experiences as a function of sex and lineage. SOURCE: The Gerontologist v. 38 (Feb. ’98) p. 53-61 bibl il. ABSTRACTS: First-time grandparents (N = 152) participated in a study of expectations of grand parenthood while their first grandchild was still in utero. One to 2 years after their first grandchild was born, they were asked to fill out the Thomas (1990) grandparent questionnaire again, and 103 did so. Expectations and experiences of grandparenthood were compared separating grandparents by sex and by lineage. Expectations and experiences of grandparenthood differed by both grandparent sex and lineage. In particular, grandmothers reported greater satisfaction and overall meaning in grandparenthood than grandfathers, whereas grandfathers felt more able to offer child-rearing advice to the parents. In regard to lineage, maternal grandparents were more satisfied in grandparenthood than they expected to be, whereas paternal grandparents were not.

AUTHOR: Szinovacz, Maximiliane E. TITLE: Grandparents today: a demographic profile. SOURCE: The Gerontologist v. 38 (Feb. ’98) p. 37-52 bibl il. ABSTRACTS: This article presents a demographic profile of grandparents, using the National Survey of Families and Households. Specific dimensions of grand parenthood addressedinclude grandparents’ survival, the timing of grandparenthood, grandparents’ involvement in other roles, surrogate parenting, and stepgrandparents. The data indicate considerable heterogeneity among grandparents of different genders and races or ethnicities. They also suggest modifications in previous descriptions of modern grandparenthood.

AUTHOR: Pearson, Jane L.; Hunter, Andrea G.; Cook, Joan M. TITLE: Grandmother involvement in child caregiving in an urban community. SOURCE: The Gerontologist v. 37 (Oct. ’97) p. 650-7 bibl il. ABSTRACTS: In a community-defined, epidemiologic sample in East Baltimore, we examined grandmothers’ rates of co-residence and their involvement in four parenting activities. Co-residence rates exceeded the national average. Six types of family households with grandmothers were identified, and their frequency varied by race. Neither grandmother age nor employment was associated with grandmothers’ parenting involvement, although family structure was. Grandmothers who were the sole parent (21%) or co-parent with a grandfather (6.5%) were most involved in child care and had the fewest number of helpers. Grandmothers living with single mothers (41%) were the next most involved, while grandmothers in mother/father households (9%) were least involved.


AUTHOR: Strawbridge, William J.; Wallhagen, Margaret I.; Shema, Sarah J. TITLE: New burdens or more of the same? Comparing grandparent, spouse, and adult-child caregivers. SOURCE: The Gerontologist v. 37 (Aug. ’97) p. 505-10 bibl il. ABSTRACTS: This study compares the health of 42 grandparent, 44 spouse, and 130 adult-child caregivers with 1,669 noncaregivers in 1994 and 1974. In 1994, all three caregiver groups had poorer mental health than the noncaregivers; grandparent caregivers also had poorer physical health and greater activity limitations. Spouse and adult-child caregivers had not differed from the noncaregivers 20 years prior, but grandparent caregivers had experienced poorer health than the noncaregivers and more stressful life events than the other caregivers. Caregiving appears to add new burdens to otherwise normal lives for spouse and adult-child caregivers, while being yet another aspect of a difficult life course for grandparent caregivers.


Grandparents and Education.  Strom, Robert D. & Strom, Shirley K. Intergenerational learning: Grandparents in the schools. Educational Gerontology, 1995 Jun, v21 (n4):321-335. Schools need grandparent volunteers. They can no longer rely solely on mothers. This article describes the essential contribution that grandparents can make to their grandchildren in education. Indeed, grandparents and retired persons have become the largest group of helpers for teachers in the classrooms The authors describe how elders and schools can work together in order improve children education; help grandparents themselves in their growth and provide support for parents in child-rearing.

Sandler, Allen G.; Warren, Sharon H.; Raver, Sharon A. Grandparents as a source of support for parents of children with disabilities: A brief report. Mental Retardation, 1995 Aug, v33 (n4):248-250. This study explores the advantages of grandparents as a source of support for parents of children with disabilities. Indeed, there is a need for parents of children with disabilities to have a strong social support network. Grandparents can be a part of this network. The authors explored the relationship between the emotional adjustment of parents of children with disabilities and the parents perceived emotional and instrumental support of the grandparents. The authors found that fathers in particular were better adjusted when there was more grandparent support. The most frequent forms of support from Grandparents were baby-sitting and buying clothing.

Grandparenting Across the Globe Strom, Robert; Strom, Shirley; Shen, Yuh-Ling; Li, Shing-Jing; Hwey-Lin, Sun. Grandparents in Taiwan: A three-generational study. International Journal of Aging & Human Development, 1996, v42 (n1):1-19 The emergence of nontraditional values and lifestyles has left Chinese elders confused and disappointed. Indeed, rapid technological changes and a growing appreciation for privacy and independence values from the West has increased Intergenerational disagreement. The authors of this article point out that Chinese grandparents need education in order to improve intergenerational relations. For example, classes for grandparents could include learning from younger family members, acquiring new communication skills to facilitate dialogue and conflict resolution, understanding nontraditional goals of parents, etc. Classes, such as these should enrich relationships between the generations.

Grandparents as Parents Jendrek, M. P., Grandparents who parent their grandchildren: Circumstances and decisions. The Gerontologist, 1994, v34 (n2), 206-216. This article investigates the circumstances which led grandmothers to provide regular care for their grandchildren. The author describes three major categories of grandmother roles. 1. Custodial Grandparents (adoption, full or temporary custody, or guardianship) assume the functions of a parent. 2. Daycare Grandparents provide children with regular daily care. 3. Living-With Grandparents assume a function which lies between the two previously described. They do not have legal custody of the grandchildren but they provide nearly all of the daily physical care for the children. The author points out that the reasons most grandparents provide care is largely due to the fragmentation of the modern day family.


Following is an index of recent articles and publications.

1. Intergenerational play therapy: The influence of grandparents in family systems. Griff, Merle D. Child & Youth Services. 1999 Vol 20(1-2) 63-76

2. Grandparenting and its relationship to parenting. Drew, Linda M.; Richard, Mary H.; Smith, Peter K. Clinical Child Psychology & Psychiatry. 1998 Jul Vol 3(3) 465-480 3. Custodial grandparenting: Stresses, coping skills, and relationships with grandchildren.by Emick, Michelle A.; Hayslip, Bert, Jr. 4. Intergenerational support in families with disabilities: Grandparents’ perspectives.Schilmoeller, Gary L.; Baranowski, Marc D. Families in Society. 1998 Sep-Oct Vol 79(5) 465-476

5. Education and grandparenting roles. King, Valarie; Elder, Glen H., Jr. Research on Aging. 1998 Jul Vol 20(4) 450-474

6. Custodial grandparenting and the impact of grandchildren with problems on role satisfaction and role meaning.Hayslip, Bert, Jr.; Shore, Jerald; Henderson, Craig E.; Lambert, Paul L.Journals of Gerontology: Series B: Psychological Sciences & Social Sciences.1998 May Vol 53B(3) S164-S173

7. Popular images of grandparents: Examining young adults’ views of their closest grandparents. Boon, Susan D.; Brussoni, Mariana J. Personal Relationships. 1998 Mar Vol 5(1) 105-119

8. Intergenerational perceptions of English speaking and Spanish speaking Mexican-American grandparents. Strom, Robert D.; Buki, Lydia P.; Strom, Shirley K. International Journal of Aging & Human Development. 1997 Vol 45(1) 1-21

9. Learning needs of African-American, Caucasian, and Hispanic grandparents. Strom, Robert; Strom, Shirley; Fournet, Lee; Wang, Chih-Mei; et al Journal of Instructional Psychology. 1997 Jun Vol 24(2) 119-134 10. Strengths and needs of working-class African-American and Anglo-American grandparents. Watson, Jeffrey A.; Koblinsky, Sally A. International Journal of Aging & Human Development. 1997 Vol 44(2) 149-165 11. Lifelong learning for grandparents: Cultural considerations in Taiwan and the United States. Strom, Robert D.Journal of Family Studies. 1999 Oct Vol 5(2) 157-179

12. The impact of parental separation/divorce on grandparent-grandchild relationships. By Drew, Linda A.; Smith, Peter K. International Journal of Aging & Human Development. 1999 Vol 48(3) 191-216

13. Perceived self-efficacy and grandparenting. King, Valarie; Elder, Glen H., Jr. Journals of Gerontology: Series B: Psychological Sciences & Social Sciences. 1998 Sep Vol 53B(5) S249-S257

14. Trajectories of grandparents’ perceived solidarity with adult grandchildren: A growth curve analysis over 23 years. Silverstein, Merril; Long, Jeffrey D. Journal of Marriage & the Family. 1998 Nov Vol 60(4) 912-923

15. The good, the bad, and the worrisome: Emotional complexities in grandparents’ experiences with individual grandchildren. Fingerman, Karen L. Family Relations: Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Studies. 1998 Oct Vol 47(4) 403-414 16. The legacy of grandparenting: Childhood experiences with grandparents and current involvement with grandchildren. King, Valarie; Elder, Glen H., Jr Journal of Marriage & the Family. 1997 Nov Vol 59(4) 848-859

17. Grandparents of children with disabilities: A review. Hastings, Richard P. International Journal of Disability, Development & Education. 1997 Dec Vol 44(4) 329-340

18. A profile of grandparents raising grandchildren in the United States. By Fuller-Thomson, Esme; Minkler, Meredith; Driver, Diane Gerontologist. 1997 Jun Vol 37(3) 406-411

19. Grandparents and children of divorce: Their contrasting perceptions and desires for the postdivorce relationship. Schutter, Mark E.; Scherman, Avraham; Carroll, Robert S.

20. Demographic and clinical characteristics of emotionally disturbed children being raised by grandparents. Ghuman, Harinder S.; Weist, Mark D.; Shafer, Micheal E. Psychiatric Services. 1999 Nov Vol 50(11) 1496-1498

21. The impact of acculturation in Mexican American families on the quality of adult grandchild-grandparent relationships. Silverstein, Merril; Chen, Xuan Journal of Marriage & the Family. 1999 Feb Vol 61(1) 188-198

22. Grandparents as a national asset: A brief note. Adkins, Vincent K. Activities, Adaptation & Aging. 1999 Vol 24(1) 13-18 23. Grandparental impact in young adults’ relationships with their closest grandparents: The role of relationship strength and emotional closeness. Brussoni, Mariana J.; Boon, Susan D. International Journal of Aging & Human Development. 1998 Vol 46(4) 267-286 24. Grandparent involvement following divorce: A comparison in single-mother and single-father families. Hilton, Jeanne M.; Macari, Daniel P. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage. 1997 Vol 28(1-2) 203-224 25. Building a theory of grandparent development. Strom, Robert; Strom, Shirley International Journal of Aging & Human Development. 1997 Vol 45(4) 255-286


Research Questionnaire

We get many requests for information from students and researchers concerning research methodology. We hope the following questionnaire can be used as a helpful point of departure for investigators. This is a sample of a questionnaire we used to assess Grandparent’s attitudes. Please feel free to adapt this questionnaire to your own needs. Also see questionnaires in “The New American Grandparent,” (Cherlin and Furstenberg) and “The Meaning of Grandparenthood” (Kivnick).


Dear Grandparent; Thank you for your interest in our survey. We are conducting this survey so that we may learn more about how Grandparents and Grandchildren feel about each other. We are interested in learning about your thoughts and feelings concerning your role as a Grandparent, and your relationship with your own children and Grandchildren. We would especially appreciate any of your own thoughts on the subject not covered in the questionnaire. We are also interested in the role of the Grandparent In society and how you see yourself as a member of society. Please feel free to write anything that comes to mind Use as many extra pages as you wish. Thank you sincerely for your cooperation.

 Personal Information

Name and Address (optional) Race Religion Age Sex_______ Do you live alone with someone who____________________ Place of residence how long________________________________ where did you move from_________________ why did you move_______________________________ Are you retired if so, what was your occupation Do you keep in contact with former colleagues__________ Are you still working if yes, what is your occupation_______________________ Please list the following information concerning your children

age sex residence ____occupation______

Please list the following concerning your Grandchildren (use back of page)

age sex residence occupation________ 2. Do you reside (circle one) –with your children, within walking distance, within daily driving distance, more than 100 miles, more than 1000 miles.

Please answer the following by placing a number in the margin or a comment on the reverse side of the page.

(1=No, Never) (2=Some of the time) (3=Most of the time) (4=Yes, Always)  Do you enjoy good health Do you feel”old” Do you find yourself thinking”old” Do others refer to you as a “old” person because of your appearance Do you allow people to treat you as if you are not there or do not count Do other people listen to what you have to say Do you make yourself heard when you disagree with people Are you intimidated by the young, do you back off from contact with them Are you intimidated by those with more education or “book learning” Are you intimidated by those who are better off financially Do you feel free to use and express the wisdom and experience that you have learned by virtue of your age alone Do you have influence within your family Do you-feel-that your children “owe” you Do you feel that society “owes” you Do you “owe” your children Have you shared some of the skills that you have learned along the course of your life with young people


Did you have a good relationship with your Grandparents ” Parents ” Children ” Grandchildren You see your Grandchildren (How often) Does your relationship with your children affect your relationship with your Grandchildren Do you have direct communication with your Grandchildren when you wish to contact them Do you take your Grandchildren alone on outings Do you know the ages of your Grandchildren Do you know the favorite foods of your Grandchildren Do you know your Grandchildrens’ friends Do you have a favorite Grandchild How did you feel when your first Grandchild was born Where were you Do you celebrate your Grandchildrens’ birthdays with them Do you celebrate holidays with them. Do you feel that you are important to your Grandchildren Do you feel that your Grandchildren are an important part of your life Do your Grandchildren need you Do you feel that your Grandchildren are “part” of you (since they carry your blood in their veins) (heredity factors) Do you NEED your Grandchildren Are you involved on the daily life of your Grandchildren Do you do “Foster Grandparenting” for other peoples’ Grandchildren Have you left your Grandchildren to retire in another geographical location If you have, was it a wise decision from an emotional and Grandparenting point of view Would you do it over again if you had a choice Would you advise your children to do the same Do your children feel that you have abandoned them Do you feel that your children have abandoned you Do you feel that your children care for you Are you glad that you had children. Would you do it over again if you had a choice Have you relinquished your role as head of the family to a younger person in the family Are you involved in decision making in your family Do friends and family seek out your advice


Do you participate in the life of the community or neighborhood in which you live Are you involved in any programs that offer help to the emotionally deprived children in day care centers, orphanages, divorced families etc. Do you use your emotional expertise Do you count in your community Do people-in your community welcome your participation Do you have friends of different ages Do -you live in an environment that is segregated by age Is your relationship with your Grandchildren different from your relationship to your own children. If yes, in what way. Are you involved in and organizations that are concerned with child care Are you involved in any National organizations that deal with the problems of the older generations. Do you feel that the public’s attitude are changing toward older people and their families Do you feel that you are an effective Grandparent If you had it to do over again, as a Grandparent and an Elder, what would you do differently. What suggestions do you have to offer to people that would like to have a better relationship with their Grandchildren Do you feel that you have achieved a stage in life where your personal experience, emotional maturity and factual knowledge have earned you the respect of others and above all, self respect. Are you satisfied that you have been accorded a place as “Elder” in the community in which you live What meaning, or importance, does life hold for you now. Please add any additional comments that you could offer concerning your feelings about Grandparenting and your own place as “Elder” in society. What could we do that would be of help. For Great-Grandparents. How is being a Great-Grandparent different from being a Grandparent What does the idea of ancestors mean to you. Does this ides have any relevance to your own life and experience. What have you learned from your own Grandparents. What legacy have they left you (material or otherwise) – What legacy are you leaving to your children or Grandchildren (material or otherwise) How would you like your Grandchildren to remember you.

Thank you for your time, effort and interest.




Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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