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Grandparenthood

Maximiliane E. Szinovacz


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Grandparenthood can be considered at three distinct levels: the societal level (referring to societal norms, functions, and esteem of grandparents), the family level (referring to interactions and supports among grandparents, parents, and grandchildren), and the individual level (referring to the meaning and significance of grandparenthood to the grandparents). The meaning and significance of grandparenthood often derive from societal and familial contexts that are beyond grandparents’ own control. On the societal level, the prevalence and duration of grandparenthood as well as the normative underpinnings of the grandparent role reflect cultural and demographic change. On the familial level, grandparents’ functions within the family context are often shaped by special needs of the children or grandchildren rather than by grandparents’ own aspirations. On the personal level, individuals experience the transition to grandparenthood as a countertransition, contingent on the fertility decisions of their children, and access to grandchildren is often mediated by the parent generation. At the societal level, grandparenthood reflects norms about kinship and kin responsibilities. The definition of grandparenthood itself depends on kinship norms. Some societies may acknowledge grandparents only on the paternal or maternal side, while bilateral kinship rules in modern western societies assign ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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