The Changing Role of Grandparents

Article excerpt

This Sunday is National Grandparents Day. More than one-third of the 4 million children living with grandparents had neither of their parents present in the grandparents' home, and more than half were under 6 years old - a trend that is turning grandparents into primary caregivers. By 2002, there will be 98 million grandparents in the US, more than half of them grandmothers.

This growing number has prompted the research of Jean Giles- Sims, professor of sociology at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Giles-Sims says baby-boomer grandmothers differ significantly from earlier generations of grandmothers. They scorn the negative stereotype of rocking chairs. They are also facing two new, conflicting trends.No 1: Many grandmothers are more involved with their grandchildren, often because of a daughter's divorce or parental insufficiency. No. 2: Some grandmothers are cut off from their grandchildren, often because of a son's divorce and lack of contact with his children.

Giles-Sims says four types of grandmothers exist.

* Traditional: They offer support in times of difficulty, without taking primary responsibility. …