Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Behavioral Problems in Adolescents Raised by Their Grandparents

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Behavioral Problems in Adolescents Raised by Their Grandparents

Article excerpt

This research analyzes, for the first time using a Spanish sample, the behavioral problems of adolescents in the custody of their grandparents. The sample consisted of 68 adolescents (31 boys and 37 girls, with a mean age of 13.7 years) in the custody of 54 grandparents with an average age of 65.9 years for the grandfathers, and 63.6 years for the grandmothers. The instrument employed was the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL;; Achenbach, 2001). The results indicate that the majority of both boys and girls can be classified within the normal range on scales of internal behavior, external behavior and total behavioral problems. When gender and age differences were analyzed, it was found that boys had more behavioral problems than girls on scales of incompliance with rules and external behavior. Meanwhile, it was shown that older adolescents had more somatic problems, as well as more behavioral problems, as measured by both the internal scale and total scale of the CBCL, than the younger participants.

Keywords: behavioral problems, grandparents, adolescent grandchildren, family custody

Este trabajo recoge, por primera vez en población española, la incidencia de los problemas de conducta presentados por los adolescentes acogidos por sus abuelos. Este estudio analiza a 68 adolescentes (31 chicos y 37 chicas, con una media de edad de 13,7 años) acogidos por 54 abuelos/as, con una media de edad de 65,9 años para los abuelos y de 63,6 años para las abuelas. El instrumento utilizado fue el Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL, Achenbach, 2001). Los resultados indican que tanto la mayoría de los chicos como de las chicas se encuentran en el rango de normalidad en las escalas de internalización, externalización y total en problemas de conducta. Al analizar las diferencias de sexo y edad, se encontró que los chicos presentan más problemas de conducta en incumplimiento de normas y en la escala de externalización, que las chicas, y que los adolescentes mayores presentan más problemas somáticos, y más problemas de conducta en la escala de internalización y en el total del CBCL, que los menores.

Palabras clave: Problemas de conducta, abuelos, nietos adolescentes, acogimiento familiar.

Child custody by members of the extended family is the most frequent type used in our country. The primary motive behind the extensive use of this kind of protection most likely reflects compliance with leading legislation on the matter, given that Law 21/November 11, 1987 indicates that custody of a minor should be procured within their own family environment. Nevertheless, it is possible that other variables arise that influence professional practice and implementation of this law such as, for example, the favorable predisposition of relatives to care for children when their parents are unable to do so, the small professional force and economic expense they dedicate to care-giving, at least until now, and the very slight educational demand on the family's guardians, etc. (Amorós & Palacios, 2004).

Although the legislation shows the importance of the extended family in child-rearing and establishes that it should be the first option to professionals in cases of child neglect or desertion, very few studies have been carried out in our country on the subject (Bernedo, 2004; Fernández del Valle, Álvarez-Baz & Bravo, 2002; Lumbreras, Fuentes, & Bernedo, 2005; Villalba & Sánchez, 2000).

At the international level, research on the subject of family custody (Iglehart, 1994; Marchand & Meulenbergs, 1999) has highlighted a series of advantages and disadvantages associated with this way of raising a child.

Among the prime advantages are the following: (a) it allows the child to remain in their usual environment with people they already know, avoiding the uprooting effect of internment in a center, and facilitating contact with parents and siblings (Beeman, Kim, & Bullerdick, 2000; Kolomer, 2000); (b) it favors the formation of the child's identity, fortifying it with a sense of the continuity of their family as well as cultural history (Keefer & Shooler, 2000); (c) it contributes to the affective stability of the child by diminishing their sense of family loss (Berrick, 1998); and (d) it reduces the probability that the children be placed in orphanages, children's homes or other types of care since the majority of these children go directly from living with their parents to being raised by relatives (Beeman et al, 2000; Iglehart, 1994). …

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