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    'One of the best members of the family': continuity and change in young children’s relationships with their grandparents

    Geraghty, Ruth and Gray, Jane and Ralph, David (2015) 'One of the best members of the family': continuity and change in young children’s relationships with their grandparents. In: The 'Irish' Family. Routledge, pp. 124-139. ISBN 9780415855327

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    As societies age, there is growing scholarly and public policy interest in the relationships between grandparents and grandchildren. Much of this research has focused on grandparents’ role as carers, since mothers are more likely to remain in the labour force, and as grandparents live longer and healthier lives, making them more available to descendent generations. The scholarship therefore focuses on grandparenting from adult perspectives – either from that of the grandparent or the ‘middle’ parent generation (Timmonen and Arber 2012, p. 10). This chapter examines the grandchild/grandparent relationship from a child’s-eye perspective. Drawing on two major archived qualitative datasets, it brings retrospective life history narratives into dialogue with contemporary qualitative interviews in order to unpack continuity and change in young children’s experiences of their relationships with their grandparents from the 1930s to the present. We show that there has been continuity in the warm and affectionate relationships that children feel towards their grandparents, associated with their experience of grandparental care. However, there have also been changes arising from two major structural transformations in family life. First, in a wealthier, more urban society, grandchildren are considerably less likely to spend extended periods of time living with a grandparent, and parents now have greater power to act as gatekeepers between the generations. Second, changes in the social construction of childhood, including the increasing importance of formal schooling, mean that the time children spend with grandparents has become more domesticated. The chapter begins with an overview of the changing demographic and socio-economic contexts of grandchild-grandparent relationships in Ireland. We then describe the data and proceed to examine the substance of continuity and change in grandchildren’s relationship with their grandparents focusing on the changing contexts of being cared for by grandparents.

    Item Type: Book Section
    Additional Information: This is the preprint version of the published chapter.
    Keywords: Family; Ireland; Grandparents; children; relationships; grandchild/grandparent relationship; child’s perspective;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology
    Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Institutes > Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute, MUSSI
    Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Institutes > National Institute for Regional and Spatial analysis, NIRSA
    Item ID: 9011
    Depositing User: Jane Gray
    Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2017 17:27
    Publisher: Routledge
    Refereed: No
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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