Three: Grandparents’ relationships with grandchildren: continuity and change

This chapter asks ‘what importance do grandchildren attach to their relationship with their grandparents and how might these relationships be affected by divorce?’; and ‘is there evidence of continuity in the grandparent-grandchild relationship in divorced families as well as evidence of change as the result of family break-up’? It suggests the findings about the effects of parental divorce on the emotional bond between grandchildren and grandparents need to be accepted with some important reservations. It discovers that grandparents who were reluctant to get involved with their grandchildren before the divorce did not become more enthusiastic about grandparenting when the parents separated. It notes that the nature of the grandparent-grandchild relationship before the break-up of the family is, on this evidence, an important predictor of the post-divorce relationship.

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