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A grandparent is the parent of a parent who traditionally has served as a comforting presence in a child's life. In contemporary society children's relationships with grandparents vary greatly depending on the stability of a child's nuclear family, physical distance, the frequency and type of contact, and the degree of emotional attachment. In some cases the ties are strictly symbolic. At the other end of the spectrum are grandparents who are highly significant to the emotional or financial well-being of a child. The number of children in the United States with grandparents as primary caregivers is on the rise, and this increase is attributed to factors such as increasing drug use, teenage pregnancy, and divorce among parents. Grandmothers are more likely to play a central role in child rearing in African-American families than in any other ethnic group. Due to an increase in life expectancy in the United States, older children and young adults are more likely to have a living grandparent than in past generations.


Hagestad, G. "Continuity and Connectedness." In Vern L. Bengston and Joan F. Roberston eds., Grandparenthood. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, 1985.

Kornhaber, Arthur. Contemporary Grandparenting. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1996.

Marianne Scholl

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Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 4