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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2004 Jan;59(1):S9-16.

Grandparenthood: factors influencing frequency of grandparent-grandchildren contact and grandparent role satisfaction.

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Department of Sociology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA.



Symbolic interaction theory suggests that self processes motivate individual behaviors and responses to roles. In this study, we explore the influence of self processes on grandparenthood.


Data were collected in 1997 from 203 middle-aged grandmothers and grandfathers living in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina, metropolitan area. We are especially interested in whether three self factors, grandparent identity meanings, grandparent centrality, and self-esteem, are related to frequency of contact with grandchildren and grandparent role satisfaction.


Results indicate that there are gender differences in the factors that influence the frequency of contact between grandparents and grandchildren. The self variables influenced frequency of contact for grandfathers but not for grandmothers. Stronger support for our expectation emerged in the analysis of factors that influence grandparent satisfaction. All three self factors are positively related to grandparent role satisfaction for both grandmothers and grandfathers.


More research is needed on the expectations and experiences of the grandparent role. In this study, we focused attention on self processes. The finding that grandparent identity meanings, grandparent centrality, and self-esteem influence grandparent role satisfaction suggests that self factors should be included in comprehensive investigations of grandparenthood. The next step is to explore the grandparent identity in more detail and investigate how it relates to other identities and to the well-being of older persons.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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