Grandparenthood and Intergenerational Relationships: A Review of the Literature

Wednesday, 24 July 2013: 4:10 PM

Rogério Clemente Rodrigues, RN, PhD
UCP Enfermagem de Saúde Pública, Familiar e Comunitária, Nursing School of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal
Isabel Mendes, PhD, RN
UCP of Maternal, Obstetric and Ginecology Nursing, Escola Superior de Enfermagem de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal
Rosa Cristina Correia Lopes, RN, MS
Department of Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing, Nursing School of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal
Zaida Azeredo, PhD
University of Porto, Porto, Portugal

Learning Objective 1: Understand family changes and how it influences the intergenerational relationships specially the role of grandparents.

Learning Objective 2: Recognize the importance of the intergenerational relationship in promoting a healthy ageing for the elder’s and a healthy development for the younger’s.

Purpose: To review published studies about the role of grandparenthood and the intergenerational relationship in contemporary western society.

Methods: As a result of demographic changes, the grandparent/grandchild relationship has the potential for spanning three to four decades of life. As a consequence, grandparenthood and its associated roles and relationships are achieving a growing prominence in contemporary Western society. By this way intergenerational support relationships between grandparents and grandchildren are a reality that can improve the communication among generations.

It was realised a literature review using data bases in B-On, Academic Google, and Pub-Med. The search was limited to articles published from 2000-2011 in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish languages.

Results: 45 studies were selected from 2710 articles of the Data bases. The main common themes found were: the role of grandparents as a family balance between generations, with interaction patterns of proximity, emotional closeness, and social support; mothers’ intergenerational ties across lineage lines appeared to be more influential for grandparent-grandchild relationships than father. Finally, grandparents bring the sense of intergenerational family identity, positively related to well-being of all members.

Conclusion: The changes in the family structure and in the family life cycle together with the new roles and functions of each member can be a constrain of the intergeneration relationships, but the new grand-parents role on supporting and taking care of grand- children can improve the communication between generations, bringing the importance of the intergenerational relations in promoting a healthy ageing for the elder’s and a healthy development for the younger’s.