Grandparents as mediating factors for children UNDER THE STRESS OF DIVORCE

Donna May Hastings (1986)

The grandparent/grandchild relationship is an understudied element in the lives of children. Grandparents have relationships with their grandchildren which link them to both the family's past and future. Grandparents have a special role with their grandchildren, and are second only to parents in their commitment to these young lives. Grandparents can be a valuable resource to the family in terms of social support, particularly in times of stress (Kivnick, 1982; Kornhaber & Woodward, 1981; Werner, 1981; Werner & Smith, 1983). When children experience a divorce, one of the most severe stressors for children, grandparents can become even more important (Werner, 1981; Werner & Smith, 1983). This study investigated grandparent/grandchild contact in a sample of third, fourth and fifth graders in a suburban school. In contrast to other research, which asserts that grandchildren have little grandparent contact, this research found that most children see their grandparents on a regular basis. Frequency of contact was not related to age, sex, grade, parents' marital situation, or working mothers. No evidence was found to support the hypothesis that children from either intact or divorced homes, who had more grandparent contact, functioned better in their daily school environment than children who had less contact.