College students perceptions of social support from grandmothers and stepgrandmothers.
College students (Family)
College students (Beliefs, opinions and attitudes)
Social networks (Psychological aspects)
Grandparent and child (Research)
Block, Cindy Eileen
Pub Date:
Name: College Student Journal Publisher: Project Innovation (Alabama) Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Education Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2002 Project Innovation (Alabama) ISSN: 0146-3934
Date: Sept, 2002 Source Volume: 36 Source Issue: 3
Event Code: 310 Science & research
Product Code: E197500 Students, College
Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States

Accession Number:
Full Text:
The role of grandmothers and stepgrandmothers as social support providers was examined. Using the Inventory of Socially Supportive Behaviors a sample of 106 college students evaluated 72 grandmothers and 34 stepgrandmothers. Analysis of variance revealed significant differences between grandmothers and stepgrandmothers for four functions of social support. Maternal grandmothers provided the most support. Increased understanding of the dynamics of (step) grandparent--(step) grandchildren relationships is essential to maximizing the benefits of intergenerational family relationships.


During the past century families in Western societies have undergone several major changes. Increased life expectancy and concomitant decreases in fertility have changed the structure of families and has affected familial roles. Verticalization of the family has created a phenomena sometimes referred to as the "beanpole" family, a multigenerational family structure with many living generations, but few members in each generation. Reduced numbers of kin within generations may contribute to increased dependence on kin between generations. Intergenerational relationships may take on more significance as family members in need of support look outside their own generation to meet the need when there are insufficient resources within their own generation. There is evidence that older grandchildren serve as supports for their aging grandparents and that grandparents provide socialization and support for their adult grandchildren. It has been estimated that more than half (50.6%) of all adults over age 65 have adult grandchildren who are at least 18 years old. In 1900 fewer than 50 percent of adolescents had two or more grandparents alive but it has been estimated that by the year 2000 over one third of grandchildren will have all of their grandparents survive until they reach age 10, and three quarters will have at least one surviving grandparent at age 30.

Most college students report a positive perception of their relationships with their grandparents. College students report that they receive both emotional and financial support from their grandparents. Many college students feel close to their grandparents, even if they don't see them very much. College students who see their grandparents frequently are more likely to feel that their grandparents influence their lives and are supportive of them.

There is evidence that grandparents influence their grandchildren's values and beliefs, including religious beliefs, sexual beliefs, political beliefs, family ideals, work ethic, and moral beliefs. Grandchildren are more likely to talk over items of importance with their grandparents than they are to engage in activities such as participating in family gatherings, religious activities, or having dinner together. It is assumed that much of the time spent in phone and personal visits is spent discussing issues of concern to the grandchild. Similarly, Kennedy (1992b) found that talking about personal concerns together was characteristic of the grandparent-college student relationship. College students may not want advice from their grandparents, but they seem to feel comfortable using them as sounding boards to air their problems and concerns.

Helping behaviors by grandparents are widely documented in grandparent research, but the focus has been on understanding other aspects of the grandparent-grandchild relationship. In their exploration of the role of grandparents, Kornhaber and Woodward (1981) described grandparents as mentors who teach children ways of working with the basic materials of life: food, clothing, shelter and transportation, and role models who demonstrate how to deal with the world outside the home. They conclude that grandparents are the foundation of the family, providing emotional support and rebuilding the family pyramid. This is accomplished by interacting with children in ritualistic ways, such as celebrating birthdays and holidays and taking children on outings.

Teaching grandchildren skills is one of the ways grandparents provide support for their grandchildren. Grandparents teach grandchildren family history, how to plan and set goals, etiquette, and skills and crafts. Older grandmothers perceive themselves to be significantly more adept at teaching their grandchildren than to younger grandmothers. Teaching activities are more common between grandparents and younger grandchildren, both because younger grandchildren have more to learn and because they are more likely to accept their grandparents as authorities than are older grandchildren. Neugarten and Weinstein (1964) described grandparents as reservoirs of family wisdom, noting that grandfathers were especially important as dispensers of special skills. Kivnick (1981) discussed the importance of grandparents as valued elders, individuals held in high esteem for their wisdom. Grandparents are expected to "teach" their grandchildren family history and family traditions.

College students expect little in the way of concrete behaviors from their grandparents, but expect them to love them and show interest in them Robertson (1976). In this way, grandparents provide grandchildren with emotional support. Creasey and Koblewski (1991) found both grandparent and grandchild gender effects in perceptions of affection in the grandparent-grandchild relationship. In general, granddaughters reported greater perceptions of affection than did grandsons, and grandmothers were perceived as more affectionate than grandfathers. Overall, scores for affection were relatively high for both granddaughters and grandsons and scores for conflict were low, mirroring results reported on younger grandchildren. This suggests affection remains a key ingredient in the grandparent-grandchild relationship even as the grandchild enters adulthood.

Currently, research on the role of step-grandparents is limited even though step-grandparenthood has become a widespread phenomenon among families of all races. Using data from the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) Szinovacz (1997) estimated that close to two fifths of couples with adult children have at least one step-grandparent relationship in their family. Glick (1990) estimated that in 1987, 10 million children under 18 years of age were in stepfamilies. Additional estimates predict that over one-half of today's young persons in the United States will be identified as stepsons or stepdaughters by the year 2000. These figures suggest that the future will bring an increase in the number of step-grandparents, and a greater need to understand the roles they play in family networks.

Research Goals and Hypotheses

The purpose of this study was to examine college students' perceptions of provisions of social support by their grandmothers and stepgrandmothers. It sought to identify the kinds of support that grandmothers provide, the frequency of support, and whether biological grandmothers and stepgrandmothers differ in their supportive behaviors

The existing literature on grandparent-grandchild relationships suggests that grandmothers would exhibit supportive behaviors toward grandchildren. Earlier studies have demonstrated that maternal grandmothers have more frequent interactions, and feel closer to their grandchildren than do paternal grandmothers. This lead to the hypothesis that maternal grandmothers would exhibit more supportive behaviors toward their grandchildren than paternal grandmothers. It was further anticipated that biological grandmothers would provide more support than stepgrandmothers. Additionally, it was posited that there might be a qualitative difference in support provision. It was hypothesized that grandmothers would provide more expressive supports than stepgrandmothers and that stepgrandmothers would be involved in providing predominantly instrumental supports.



The sample of young adult college students was drawn from several undergraduate Psychology and Child and Family Development courses at a large northeastern private university. Participation was voluntary but respondents were required to be 18 to 24 years old and have at least one living grandmother or step-grandmother. Respondents were asked to provide information about the socially supportive behaviors of the targeted grandmother or stepgrandmother. For the purpose of this study stepgrandmothers were defined as either a stepmother's mother or a stepfather's mother. This definition eliminated stepgrandmothers that resulted from divorce and remarriage in the grandparent generation.


A 40 item scale, the Inventory of Socially Supportive Behaviors (ISSB), was completed by each subject for each living grandmother or step-grandmother. The inventory is a self-report measure that was designed to measure the frequency of various forms of assistance received during the past year. Subjects were asked to rate the frequency of each item on a 5 point Likert scales (0= not at all, 1= several times a year, 2= about once a month, 3= several times a month and 4=at least once a week. Subjects also provided socio-demographic information.


Four scales were derived from combinations of the ISSB variables. The emotional support scale consisted of 13 variables and had a reliability of alpha = .96, the guidance scale consisted of 14 variables and had a reliability of alpha = .96, the social interaction scale was comprised of 5 variables with a reliability of alpha = .88, and the tangible support scale had 11 variables with a reliability of alpha = .90. A global support score was calculated using average frequencies of all 40 variables.


Sample characteristics

The sample consisted of 106 college students, predominantly female (90.6%), ranging in age from 18 to 23, with a mean age of 19.4 (SD=1.425). The sample was largely Caucasian (83.8%), but African-Americans (8.5%), Asians (4.7%) and Latinos (2.8%) were also represented. Subjects provided information about 34 stepgrandmothers and 72 grandmothers. Participants targeted 43 maternal grandmothers, 29 paternal grandmothers, 17 stepmother's mothers and 17 stepfather's mothers. None of the subjects resided with stepgrandparents. Participants came from largely middle-class and upper class families, with family incomes ranging from below $30,000 to over $200,000. Over half (51.9%) of the students reported total family incomes over $60,000.

Differences between grandmothers and stepgrandmothers

Using analysis of variance (univariate) grandmothers and stepgrandmothers were compared on global scores, the 4 average scale scores and the scores for all 40 ISSB variables. Although item by item analysis might have reduced statistical power, the possibility of important differences becoming obscured outweighed this consideration since scale scores are based on averages from several variables. Analysis revealed a significant main effect for grandmother status. The data in Table 1 provides a summary of scale scores. Global support scores revealed that students perceived that grandmothers provided more support overall than stepgrandmothers, F (105) = 14.27, p = .000. Mean scale scores for grandmothers were significantly higher than mean scale scores for stepgrandmothers. Students reported that grandmothers provided more emotional support, F (105) = 20.71, p = .000, guidance, F (105) = 11.55, p = .001, social interaction, F (105) = 16.76, p = .000 and tangible support, F (105) = 5.50, p = .02. There were significant differences between grandmothers and stepgrandmothers on 32 of the 40 ISSB variables. As shown in Table 2, mean scores for grandmothers were higher than mean scores for stepgrandmothers on all variables, except granting loans of over $500, where the mean for stepgrandmothers was slightly higher than for grandmothers, but the difference was not statistically significant.

The summary in Table 2 shows that mean scores for grandmothers were equal to or greater than 1 for 21 ISSB variables, meaning that these behaviors occur at least several times a year. The means for three ISSB variables were equal to or greater than 2 for grandmothers: (1) interest in concern for well-being (M=2.46, SD=1.36); (2) let you know that you did something well (M=2.00; SD=1.39); and (3) let you know that they would always be around if you need assistance (M=2.00, SD=1.50). This indicates that grandmothers provide some form of emotional support at least once a month. Mean scores for stepgrandmothers were less than 1 for all 40 ISSB variables, suggesting that social support from stepgrandmothers is relatively infrequent.


Young adults in the new millennium will have more living grandparents than at any other time in history. Their grandmothers may have cooed at them when they were infants, provided childcare for them as toddlers, been companions as school children, and confidants as adolescents. Earlier research has suggested that family members and other adult figures diminish in importance as supportive agents as children mature. The present research suggests that grandmothers may continue to provide supportive functions for their grandchildren as they become young adults, remaining an important part of their grandchildren's convoy of social support. These findings are consistent with those reported by Creasey and Kaliher (1994) who found that although grandparents decrease as support influences during the transition from pre-adolescence to adolescence, provision of affection and nurturance are not affected by grandchild age. Even though the majority of college students spend a significant part of the year geographically distant from their parents and grandparents, the results of this study suggest that most continue to be the beneficiaries of emotional support and social interaction from their grandmothers.

Grandmothers appear to have the ability to give an abundance of emotional support and guidance to their grandchildren while attending college. The mean scale score for emotional support was the highest of the four subscale scores. College students perceive that their grandmothers provide emotional support by showing concern for their grandchildren's well-being, by letting them know they will always be there to support them, by telling them they are `OK" just the way they are and by letting them know that they feel close to them. The high score for communicating concern indicates that, not only do grandmother's care about their grandchildren's well being, but that they communicate that feeling of concern frequently. While it has been reported that grandparents and adult grandchildren have contact about once a month (Block, 2000; Kennedy, 1992b), the high mean here suggests that earlier estimates may be low. Grandmothers may be expressing their positive regard for their collegiate grandchildren in person, by telephone and mail, and increasingly by e-mail as both generations gain familiarity with computer technology and the Internet.

The findings in this study that grandmothers provide emotional support is consistent with findings reported by Sanders and Trygstad (1993). In their study of strengths in the grandparent-grandchild relationship they found that 66.7% of the college students surveyed reported that they received emotional support from their grandmothers. Grandmothers concern for their grandchild's well being, and assurance that they will always be there for them, may prove to be an important source of emotional support for young adult college students struggling with developmental issues common to post-adolescence and early adulthood. Counselors working with college students may want to explore the availability of emotional support from grandmothers when their young adult clients need support.

The results of this study indicate that grandmothers provide collegiate grandchildren guidance by providing various forms of information and feedback. The mean scale score for guidance suggests that grandmothers provide their grandchildren with some form of guidance at least several times a year. Grandchildren reported that their grandmothers "let them know that they did something well" on the average of once a month. The same variable was ranked high for stepgrandmothers, although the overall level of guidance from stepgrandmothers was very low. The findings in this study that grandmothers provided their collegiate grandchildren with guidance were consistent with the findings reported by Sanders and Trygstad (1993) in their study of strengths in the grandparent-grandchild relationship. In that study 63.4% of the college students surveyed reported that their grandmothers provided them with guidance. The findings of this study suggest that grandmothers may be a good resource for collegiate grandchildren when they need guidance.

The college students in the present study appeared to have regular social interaction with grandmothers. Mean results of the social interaction scale suggest that even though most of the collegiate grandchildren were living away from home, and geographically distant from their grandparents during the past year, they had some form of social interaction with their grandparents at least several times during the past year. These findings are similar to those reported by Kennedy (1992b) who found that social activities, such as talking about personal concerns, were characteristic of the grandparent-grandchild relationship. As grandchildren mature the nature of their social interactions with grandparents may change. Older grandchildren may spend more time sharing thoughts, feelings and ideas with grandparents and less time in physical activities. This may be the result of changing needs and desires of both the grandparents and the grandchildren. College students usually have older grandparents and many older grandparents have decreased ability to engage in physical activities.

Current findings suggest that when college students need social supports they are more likely to get emotional support, social interaction and guidance from their grandmothers and stepgrandmothers than tangible supports. Mean scale scores for tangible support were the lowest of all four subscales for both grandmothers and stepgrandmothers. Measures of tangible support ranked among the lowest measures of support given by grandmothers. Only one variable that measured tangible support, "gave you less than $500", had a mean over one. The low mean indicates that grandmothers may provide their collegiate grandchildren with some cash gifts a few times a year. This is not surprising given the fact that most college students live away from home a large portion of the year, and the easiest gift for a grandparent to give a "long distance" grandchild may be a monetary gift. A cash gift for a birthday and Christmas could easily constitute the exchange of money several times a year, without having much significance in terms of intergenerational financial support. Keeping in mind that the variable covers a range from $.01 to $499.99, not much is being exchanged in the way of economic resources from the grandparent to the grandchild generation. Grandmothers might be willing to loan their grandchildren a few dollars for gas, but it is unlikely that they will give them much toward a new car to put the gas in. As mentioned earlier, giving and loaning money ranked lowest among all supportive behaviors for both grandmothers and stepgrandmothers. Bass and Cato (1996) noted that giving money and giving time are two independent and unrelated actions. They found no relationship between spending time helping grandchildren and the provision of financial assistance. Similarly, the results of the present study suggest that giving financial support and giving emotional support and guidance may be unrelated.

Grandmothers may not provide tangible support for a variety of reasons. They may not live geographically close enough to the grandchild to provide this kind of support with any regularity. They may have physical or psychological health problems that prevent them from providing much in the way of instrumental support. For example, some aging persons are no longer able to drive themselves due to deteriorating physical health such as poor vision and mobility impairment. They then would be unable to provide transportation for a grandchild. Grandmothers may have abandoned larger homes in exchange for smaller more manageable and less expensive dwelling units. Therefore, they may be unable to offer grandchildren a place to stay, even on a temporary basis. Stepgrandmothers are also less likely to provide tangible supports to stepgrandchildren, than emotional support and most likely for the same reasons that grandmothers are low on provision of these supports.

Differences between Grandmothers and Stepgrandmothers

The hypothesis that biological grandmothers would provide more support than stepgrandmothers was supported by the data in the present study. Mean scores for grandmothers were higher than for step-grandmothers for all four subscales and all 40 variables. Even the highest ranked variable for stepgrandmothers had an average score less than one, suggesting that if it happens at all it is infrequent. In fact, only two variables, "talked with you about some interests of yours" and "expressed interest and concern in your well-being" had means above .80. The most frequent response given by grandchildren about supportive behaviors demonstrated by stepgrandmothers was "not at all". The present study provides a better understanding of specific supportive behaviors grandmothers and stepgrandmothers provide.

The hypothesis that stepgrandmothers would be involved in providing predominantly instrumental support was not supported. Stepgrandmothers, like grandmothers, were primarily involved in providing social interaction and emotional support, although to a much lesser degree. The means for the tangible support subscale was the lowest of all four subscales for both grandmothers and step-grandmothers. Although giving gifts of less than $500 ranked higher than other variables related to intergenerational financial exchange, the overall incidence of exchange was very low. It appears that the exchange of monetary gifts between grandchildren and stepgrandmothers is not common. The majority of stepgrandchildren (61.4%) reported that their stepgrandmothers never gave them gifts of money valued at under $500 during the past year. In contrast, 79.2 % of grandchildren reported that they received gifts of money from their grandmothers. This suggests that stepgrandmothers may give occasional token gifts to stepgrandchildren, but they are not much different from grandmothers in regards to the exchange of financial supports.

Parental divorce has been identified as a factor in the grandparent-grandchild relationship (Ahrons & Bowman, 1981; Cherlin & Furstenberg 1985; Gladstone, 1987a; Gladstone, 1988; Gladstone, 1989; Gladstone, 1991; Johnson, 1988a; Kruk, 1995). The middle generation may be expected to mediate relationships between stepgrandparents and stepgrandchildren in the same way that they mediate relationships between biological grandparents and grandchildren. Children are not as close to their stepparents as they are to their biological parents and the same may be expected to be true for stepgrandparents versus biological grandparents. Henry, Ceglian and Matthews (1992) found that mothers had different perceptions of the role meanings, role behaviors and grand-parenting styles of grandmothers and stepgrandmothers. Mothers perceived that stepgrandmothers would provide both less expressive and less instrumental support than grandmothers would. The present study confirms these expectations. It is possible then that mothers, acting on these perceptions, may actually contribute to the diminished relationships between stepgrandmothers and stepgrandchildren by not fostering more interactions and supportive relationships. The perceptions of the middle generation may help explain why stepgrandchildren have few expectations for stepgrandparents and why stepgrandparents in turn provide few social supports.


College grandchildren, even those that live away from home can continue to count on their grandmothers for social support, especially emotional support and guidance. College students, many of them facing additional pressures associated with the changes attending school away from family and friends brings about, may find grandmothers to be an additional source of help when dealing with multiple adjustments. Practitioners who work with college students may not be tapping into grandparents as a resource for young adults who need support and guidance. Grandmothers might provide the unconditional love and non-critical advice that young adults need as they negotiate new challenges and developmental issues.

Studies of intergenerational exchange have placed a heavy emphasis on the lack of financial exchange and the importance of caretaking, both older relatives as caretakers of young children and adult children as caregivers of aging parents. Aging adults in the new century will be better educated, more financially secure, and in better health than at any other time in history. While the aging population will continue to face their own challenges, they have the opportunity to contribute a great deal to their families and communities, evidenced by their continued provision of support to their grandchildren into their young adult years. Programs that work with families may need to look beyond the nuclear family, to the extended family, especially grandparents, to maximize the benefits of the range of services offered. Using an intergenerational perspective both the older and younger generations can benefit from a variety of experiences. Grandparents who remain involved with their adult grandchildren receive the benefits of reconfirming their self worth and the grandchildren receive the benefits of continued family support.

Approximately 60% of remarriages involve adults with physical custody of one or more children. Between 20% and 25% of grandparents will be stepgrandparents either through their own divorce or through their adult children's divorce and remarriage. Stepfamilies and blended families create new challenges for grandparents. While stepgrandparents may have the potential to be resources for their step-grandchildren these findings suggest that stepgrandparents remain on the periphery of their stepgrandchildren's lives. When parents and stepparents renegotiate relationships during the process of building their new stepfamily they might want to include stepgrandparents in the process and encourage the involvement of both biological and stepgrandparents in the lives of their children. Stepgrandparents can be bridge builders, acting as pivotal links between otherwise non-connected family members. Social service agencies that offer programs and intervention services for stepfamilies might want to consider including stepgrandparents in their programs and may need to develop programs specific to their needs. There are many books and guides on grandparenting and books and materials to guide stepfamilies, but there are no materials for stepgrandparents who could benefit from this form of assistance.

Recommendations for further research

The present study was an initial attempt to examine the role of grandmothers and stepgrandmothers in the social support networks of collegiate grandchildren. The evidence suggests that grandmothers play a supportive role in their grandchildren's lives as they mature into adulthood. Further research needs to examine the role of grandfathers and their importance in the lives of college students. Research needs to be conducted with more diversified samples to determine if there are gender differences in the supportive functions, and whether grandparent gender and/or grandchild gender affect the nature and amount of support provision.

There is a paucity of research on stepgrandparenting in spite of the large number of stepgrandparents in the United States. This study reveals that support provision by stepgrandmothers is negligible. Qualitative research is needed to gain a better understanding of the nature of stepgrandparent-stepgrandchild relationships. Future research on stepgrandparenting may want to examine relationships with stepgrandparents as a result of grandparents' remarriage. These stepgrandparents have been excluded from most previous studies about stepgrandparents and little is known about their relationships with stepgrandchildren.

The difference in support provision noted between stepmother's mothers and stepfather's mothers needs further examination. The pattern of increased provision by stepfather's mothers suggests that stepfather's mothers may be more involved with stepchildren than stepmother's mothers. Additional research should examine whether these differences occur in other forms of interaction, quality and amount of contact, and perceptions of closeness. Research is also needed to understand the affects of parent and stepparent mediation on relationships between stepgrandparents and stepgrandchildren.

Grandparents and stepgrandparents have the potential to enrich their (step) grandchildren's lives by being active members of their social support systems. Increased understanding of the dynamics of (step) grandparent--(step) grandchildren relationships is essential to maximizing the benefits of intergenerational family relationships.


Ahrons, C,R., & Bowman, M.E. (1981). Changes in Family Relationships following Divorce of Adult Child: Grandmother's Perceptions. Journal of Divorce. 5,1-2.

Barerra, M., Jr. (1981). Social support in the adjustment of pregnant adolescents: Assessment issues. In B.H. Gottleib (Ed.), Social Networks and Social Support. (pp. 69-96). Beverly Hills: Sage.

Bass, S.A., & Caro, F.G. (1996). The Economic Value of Grandparent Assistance. Generations 20, 29-33.

Beer, W.R. (1992). American Stepfamilies. New Brunswick: Transaction Publications.

Bengtson, V., & DeTerre, E. (1980). Aging and Family Relations. Marriage and Family Review, 3, 1-2.

Block, C.E. (2000). Dyadic and gender differences in the grandparent-grandchild relationship. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 51, 85-104.

Cherlin, A., & Furstenberg, F. (1985). Styles and strategies of grandparenting. In B.L. & J.E. Robertson (Eds.), Grandparenthood. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.

Creasey, G.L. (1993). The association between divorce and late adolescent grandchildren's relations with grandparents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 22, 513-529.

Creasey, G.L., & Kaliher, G. (1994). Age differences in grandchildren's perceptions of relations with grandparents, Journal of Adolescence, 17, 411-426.

Creasey, G.L., & Koblewski, P.J. (1991). Adolescent grandchildren's relationships with maternal and paternal grandmothers and grandfathers. Journal of Adolescence 14, 373-387.

Gladstone, J.W. (1987). Factors Associated with Changes in Visiting between Grandmothers and Grandchildren Following an Adult Child's Marriage Breakdown. Canadian Journal on Aging/Revue Canadienne du Vieillissement, 6, 117-127.

Gladstone, J.W. (1988). Perceived changes in grandmother-grandchild relations following a child's separation or divorce. The Gerontologist, 28, 33-72.

Gladstone, J.W. (1989). Grandmother-Grandchild Contact: The Mediating Influence of the Middle Generation following Marriage Breakdown and Remarriage. Canadian Journal on Aging/Revue Canadienne du Vieillissement, 8, 355-365.

Gladstone, J.W. (1991). An analysis of changes in grandparent-grandchild visitation following an adult child's remarriage. Canadian Journal on Aging, 10, 113-126.

Glick, P.C. (1990). Remarried families, stepfamilies and stepchildren. Family Relations, 38, 24-27.

Henry, C.S., Ceglian, C.P., & Matthews, D.W. (1992). The role behaviors, role meanings, and grandmothering styles of grandmothers and stepgrandmothers: Perceptions of the middle generation. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 17(3-4), 1-22.

Henry, C.S., Ceglian, C.P., & Ostrander, D.L. (1993). The transition to stepgrandparenthood. Special Issue: The stepfamily puzzle: Intergenerational influences. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 19, 25-44.

Johnson, C.L. (1988). Active and latent functions of grandparenting during the divorce process. The Gerontologist, 28, 185-191.

Kennedy, G.E. (1992a). Quality in grandparent/grandchild relationships. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 35, 83-98.

Kennedy, G.E. (1992b). Shared activities of grandparents and grandchildren. Psychological Reports, 70, 211-227.

Kivnick, H.Q. (1981). Grandparenthood and the Mental Health of Grandparents. Aging and Society, 1, 365-391.

Kornhaber, A., & Woodward, A.L. (1981). Grandparents/grandchildren: The vital connection. Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday.

Kruk, E. (1995). Grandparent-Grandchild Contact Loss: Findings from a Study of "Grandparent Rights" Members. Canadian Journal on Aging/Revue Canadienne du Vieillissement, 14, 737-754.

Lawton, L., Silverstein, M., & Bengtson, V.L. (1997). Solidarity between generations in families. In W.L. Bengtson & R.A. Harootyan (Eds.), Intergenerational linkages in American Society. New York: Springer.

Longino, C.F., Jr., & Earle, J.R. (1996). Who Are the Grandparents at Century's End? Generations, 20, 13-16.

Neugarten, B., & Weinstein, K.K. (1964). The changing American grandparent. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 26, 199-204.

Roberto, K.A., & Stroes, J. (1992). Grandchildren and grandparents: Roles, influences, and relationships. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 34, 227-239.

Robertson, J.F. (1976). Significance of grandparents: Perceptions of young adult grandchildren. The Gerontologist, 13, 137-140.

Sanders, G.F., & Trygstad, D.W. (1993). Strengths in the grandparent-grandchild relationship. Activities, Adaptation and Aging, 17, 43-53.
Table 1
Comparison of Scale Scores

                GM               SGM
                N = 72           N = 34

                Mean      SD     Mean    SD

Emotional       1.74 *   1.21    .54     .72
Global          1.11 *    .95    .43     .65
Guidance        1.05 *   1.08    .37     .24
Social          1.45 *   1.09    .59     .78
Tangible         .70 *   1.13    .35     .62


Range of scale in Likert response format 4 = at least once a
week 0 = not at all

GM = grandmothers

SGM = stepgrandmothers

* Significantly different at p < .05

Table 2
Grandmothers and Stepgrandmothers Mean Scores for Supportive Behaviors

               Variable                  Grandmothers  Stepgrandmothers

1. Looked after a family member
when you were away                         .78              .46
2. Was right there with you
in a stressful situation                   1.01 ***         .21
Provided you with a place
where you could get away
for awhile.                                89 *             .35
4. Watched after your possessions
when you were away                         .65              .50
5. Told you what she did in a
situation that was similar
to yours                                   1.10 *           .50
6. Did some activity together to
help you get your mind
off things                                 .97 *            .41
7. Talked with you about
some interests of yours                    1.90 ***         .88
8. Let you know that you
did something well                         2.00 ***         .76
9. Went with you to someone
who could take action                      .24              .24
10. Told you that you are
OK just the way you are                    1.86 ***         .59
Told you that she would keep
the things you talk about private-
just between the two of you                1.00 **          .77
12. Assisted you in setting a goal
for yourself                               .99 *            .38
13. Made it clear what was
expected of you                            1.01 *           .38
Expressed esteem or respect for a
competency or personal quality
of yours                                   1.56 **          .79
15. Gave you some information on
how to do something                        1.38 ***         .50
16. Suggested some action
you should take                            1.07 **          .38
17. Gave you over $500                     .46              .21
Comforted you by showing
you some physical affection                1.46 ***         59
Gave you some information to help
you understand a situation you were in     1.10 **          .36
20. Provided you with some
transportation                             .71              .29
21. Checked back with you to see
if you followed advice                     .96 **           .26
22. Gave you under $500                    1.17 ***         .50
Helped you understand why you
didn't do something well                   .71 *            .26
24. Listened to you talk about your
private feelings                           .96 **           .29
25. Loaned or gave you something
(a physical object other than money)
that you needed                            .97 *            .50
26. Agreed that what you wanted to
do was right 1                             .29 **           .62
Said things that made your situation
clearer and easier to understand           1.20 *           .41
28. Told you how she felt in a similar
situation                                  1.06 **          .38
29. Let you know that she will always
be around if you need assistance           2.00 ***         70
30. Expressed interest and concern
in your well-being                         2.46 ***         .85
31. Told you that she feels very
close to you                               1.70 ***         .50
32. Told you who you should
see for assistance                         .68 *            .21
Told you what to expect in a future
situation that was about to happen         .89 *            .41
34. Loaned you over $500                   .04              .12
35. Taught you how to do something         1.11 ***         .32
36. Gave you feedback on how you
were doing                                 1.31 ***         .35
37. Joked and kidded to try and
cheer you up                               1.32 **          .62
38. Provided you with a place to stay      .77              .44
Pitched in and helped you do something
that needed to be done                     .86 *            .35
40. Loaned you under $500                  .13              .12


Range of scale in Likert response format, 4 = at least once a week,
0 = not at all

* Significant at p<.05

** Significant at p<.01

*** Significant at p<.001

Department of Child and Family Studies
Syracuse University
Gale Copyright:
Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.