Grandparents and Stepgrandparents

Abstract Are intergenerational bonds important in stepfamilies? Changes in longevity, fertility, and marital stability have important implications for stepfamilies. The effects of custody and gender on grandparent-grandchild relationships in stepfamilies are presented in this chapter, as is information about stepgrandparents (39 % of American families have stepgrandparents). There are several pathways to becoming a stepgrandparent (i.e., long-term, later-life, skip-generation, and inherited), and these pathways are critical to the development of stepgrandparent-step- grandchild relationships. The small body of research on former stepgrandparents, and how and why these relationships are maintained or not is also reviewed. Grandparents and stepgrandparents can have significant roles in families, and the rapid increase in multigenerational stepfamilies has made this a fertile area for future research.

Keywords Stepgrandparents • Stepgrandparent pathways • Stepgrandchildren • Grandparents • Grandchildren • Intergenerational relationships • Former stepgrandparents • Intergenerational obligations in stepfamilies

Most stepfamily researchers and clinicians have focused their attentions on step- families with young children and adolescents, generally ignoring older stepfamilies. Stepfamilies exist throughout the life course, however, and there are important intergenerational relationships in stepfamilies, such as bonds between children and their grandparents and stepgrandparents. Older stepfamilies are growing in numbers in most industrialized nations, and their issues and concerns increasingly are important and relevant for policy makers, practitioners, and researchers.

In most industrialized nations, three demographic changes have transformed the structure of all families, including stepfamilies: (a) older adults are living longer, (b) younger adults are having fewer children, and (c) fewer individuals marry for life. Taken together, these alterations in longevity, fertility, and marital stability have important implications for multigenerational stepfamilies.

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017 L. Ganong, M. Coleman, Stepfamily Relationships, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4899-7702-1_11

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