Qualitative aspects of the grandparent -grandchild relationship and the impact on adolescent self-esteem and ethnic identity

Susan Ann Rosendahl-Masella, Fordham University

Abstract

The study investigated four qualitative aspects of the grandparent-grandchild relationship with college-age grandchildren (M = 19 years, SD = 1.4): social support, affection, affectional bond, and attachment security. The psychological qualities of the relationship on grandchildren's self-esteem and ethnic identity achievement were also studied. Data from 202 research participants from introductory and upper-division psychology classes, who had at least one living grandparent confirmed the notion that qualitative aspects of the grandparent-grandchild relationship were related to adolescent grandchildren's self-esteem but not their ethnic identity achievement. The strength of grandchildren's affectional bond to their emotionally closest grandparent and grandchildren's degree of attachment security to their grandparent were unique predictors of grandchildren's self-esteem. The hypothesized, positive interrelationships among the relationship-quality variables were also confirmed by the data but the predicted, positive relationship between grandchildren's security of attachment to their emotionally closest grandparent and grandchildren's ethnic identity achievement was not. Post hoc and exploratory analyses indicated that grandchildren who were securely attached to their grandparents, always emotionally close to their current living grandparent, emotionally close to their maternal grandparents, and of Italian ancestry had intergenerational relationships characterized by more positive relationship qualities than those grandchildren who were insecurely attached, closer to another grandparent, closer to their paternal grandparents, and/or of Hispanic ancestry. Two qualities of the grandparent-grandchild relationship (affectional bond and security) mediated the relationship between the intergenerational contact variables, such as visiting with grandparents and the parent-grandparent relationship, and the grandchildren's self-esteem not the reverse. The findings extend the study of the qualitative aspects of the intergenerational relationship to college-age grandchildren and their grandparents. Two of the psychological qualities present in the grandparent-grandchild relationship are attachment components (affectional bond and security of attachment) and, therefore the findings extend the study of attachment to college-age students and to a new attachment figure, grandparents. Continued investigation of developmental consequences of the relationship on both the grandchild and the grandparent is warranted. Intervention programs to enhance the psychological qualities of the relationship are discussed and should be studied. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Developmental|Psychology, Personality|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies

Recommended Citation

Susan Ann Rosendahl-Masella, "Qualitative aspects of the grandparent -grandchild relationship and the impact on adolescent self-esteem and ethnic identity" (January 1, 1996). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI9613859.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9613859

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