Introduction: Intergenerational Relationships in Today's Families

By Bubolz, Margaret M. | Michigan Family Review, January 1, 1999 | Go to article overview

Introduction: Intergenerational Relationships in Today's Families


Bubolz, Margaret M., Michigan Family Review


Introduction

Intergenerational Relationships in Today's Families

Margaret M. Bubolz, Coeditor

Since the beginning of the family, connections between generations have been one of the most important social bonds in all societies. For centuries, in most cultures, the family was defined by "blood relatives" and their several conjugal units of husband/wife/children. Over time, norms and patterns have evolved in various cultures for intergenerational living arrangements, obligations, support, inheritance, and relationships.

Today, in addition to the traditional conjugal unit, families exist in many different forms such as single parent, grandparent-grandchild, childless, same-sex couples and step and blended families. Families differ also in their housing and living patterns. These changes call for new definitions and new ways to work out satisfying and workable intergenerational bonds. This issue includes an array of excellent articles that explore relationships between the generations in today's families.

The introductory article by Tim and Ellie Brubaker presents "The Four Rs" of respect, responsibility, reciprocity and resilience that are relevant to all forms of families and to persons who work with older people and their families. These qualities can be foundations for strengthening intergenerational bonds and can undergird professional practice. Barbara Ames explores implications of marital satisfaction, divorce, and co-residence patterns on life course parenting and delineates major themes that characterize parent-child relationships over the life course. Elizabeth Seagull presents a value-driven framework based on the core values of respect and honesty, key tools, and practical suggestions for helping two adult generations develop new ways of relating when children "come home again."

The growing phenomenon of grandparents raising grandchildren is explored in two articles. Linda Dannison and Andrea Smith use an ecological approach and present generic concepts that apply to programming for all custodial grandparents, regardless of the reasons for taking on the caregiving role. Mary Jane Van Meter and Barbara Hirshorn describe an educational program for grandparents who are raising the children of the grandparent's drug addicted children. The key concept of developing "self management" can also apply to other grandparenting situations. Katia Goldfarb describes a service-learning project aimed at promoting intergenerational and cross-cultural relations and understanding. …

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