Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

"You Don't Want to Hurt His Feelings.": Family Leisure as a Context for Intergenerational Ambivalence

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

"You Don't Want to Hurt His Feelings.": Family Leisure as a Context for Intergenerational Ambivalence

Article excerpt

Introduction

Leisure activities play an important role in the lives of families, among couples, in parent-child relations, and in grandparent-grandchild relations (Lawton, Silverstein, & Bengtson, 1994; Menee & Chipperfield, 1997; Norris, Kuiack, & Pratt, 2004; Szinovacz & Davey, 2001, 2004). Societal norms related to family leisure have espoused a variety of benefits, one of the most common being the old adage, "The family that plays together, stays together" (Wearing. 1993, p. 25). The bulk of family related leisure research has focused on these benefits, including improved communication among family members, higher quality of family relationships, and enhanced family cohesiveness and strength (Freeman & Zabriskie, 2002; Orthner & Mancini, 1990; Palmer, Freeman, & Zabriskie, 2007). Recently, however, approaches to the theorizing and study of family leisure have been challenged. A number of researchers have questioned the traditional definition of family as a heterosexual couple with young children (Alien, Fine, & Demo, 2000; Cohler & Altergott, 1995) and family leisure as an experience without some level of conflict (Freysinger, 1997; Shaw, 1992, 1997; Shaw & Dawson, 2003; te Kloeze, 1999, Trussell & Shaw, 2007). This has led to a critical analysis of underlying values, beliefs, and assumptions that influence epistemological and ontological approaches to the study of family leisure.

Family leisure has come to refer primarily to "time that parents and children spend together in free time or recreational activities" (Shaw, 1997, p. 98). Research focusing specifically on family leisure has largely excluded the voices of older adults. Mancini and Sandifer (1995) note that the "nexus of the family and leisure realms for aging people is neither clearly conceptualized nor adequately explored" (p. 132). Increasing longevity indicates that a better understanding of grandparent-grandchild relationships is warranted. Grandparents and grandchildren could experience benefits from family leisure, including improved communication among family members, higher quality of family relationships, and enhanced family cohesiveness. Similarly, negative experiences also likely exist, including conflict in the family that arises out of the leisure experience. Ambivalence related to the grandparent role may also play a part in the experience of family leisure for grandparents and grandchildren (Scraton & Holland, 2006).

The purpose of this inductive study, therefore, was to understand the role of intergenerational ambivalence in the experience of intergenerational family leisure for grandparents and their adult grandchildren. Although Shaw (1997) has suggested that family leisure is "time that parents and children spend together in free time or recreational activities" (p. 98), based on the social constructionist approach to the current study, we have expanded this definition and have defined intergenerational family leisure for the purpose of this study as the experience of time spent together by grandparents and grandchildren in free time or recreational activities. In accordance with the tenets of interpretive research, the participants' meanings and perceptions of what constitutes free time or recreation were used as the basis for understanding the process.

Theoretical Approach

The current study utilizes a social constructionist approach to the study of intergenerational family leisure. This approach conceives of knowledge not as being discovered, but rather as being constructed in and out of interaction between human beings and their world, and developed and transmitted within an essentially social context (Berger & Luckman, 1967). Individuals construct meaning out of their interactions as individuals with the social world (Gergen, 1985). In using a social constructionist approach, we have attempted to interpret and make sense of the experience of intergenerational family leisure as constructed by grandparents and their adult grandchildren. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.