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Grandmothers and Grandmothering

  • By: Susan de la Porte & Thenjiwe Magwaza
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Grandparents have a special significance for their grandchildren, and therefore have an impact on their lives. Relative to what they used to do for their own children, they are often known for spoiling, comforting, mediating, and for being eager to avail time for their grandchildren. They also influence their grandchildren's development. In particular, the grandmother is viewed either as an important source of support, playmate, or caregiver, second only to the mother.

Some households are more likely than others to include both a grandchild and a grandparent. Researchers studying care giving note that since the late 1980s, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of grandmothers taking up the role of a primary caregiver to their grandchildren and greatgrandchildren. In particular, the last decade ...

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