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Child Dev. 1996 Oct;67(5):2131-47.

Not just "ghosts in the nursery": contemporaneous intergenerational relationships and parenting in young African-American families.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


The association of the mother-grandmother relationship with parenting of preschoolers was examined in a sample of 96 African-American multigenerational families. Mother-grandmother and parent-child interactions were assessed at home with videotaped problem-solving tasks. The Scale of Intergenerational Relationship Quality (SIRQ), a global observational coding system, was developed to assess the quality of the mother-grandmother relationship via observational ratings of mothers' and grandmothers' discussion of conflict. It yielded 4 factors: Emotional Closeness (connectedness), Positive Affect (upbeat tone), Grandmother Directness (demandingness and clarity), and Individuation (balance of autonomy and mutuality). Regression analyses controlling for socioeconomic background variables showed that SIRQ factors, particularly Individuation, were consistently related to mothers' parenting. Relationship effects varied when interacted with age and coresidence. The importance of a multigenerational, contextual perspective for research and intervention with young African-American mothers is discussed.

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