Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: The Role of Commitment

Kwan, Amy (2013). Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: The Role of Commitment Professional Doctorate, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Kwan, Amy
Thesis Title Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: The Role of Commitment
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2013-01-29
Thesis type Professional Doctorate
Supervisor Dr Paul Harnett
Dr Genevieve Dingle
Total pages 122
Language eng
Subjects 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology
Abstract/Summary The number of grandparents assuming the primary caretaker role for their grandchildren in Western industrialised countries has rapidly increased in recent times. Despite the increasing prevalence rate of grandparent-headed households in Australia, little is known about the characteristics and experiences of these families. Custodial grandparents face a number of stressors as a result of raising their grandchildren. These stressors have negative implications for grandparents’ mental health. Many children being raised by grandparents have encountered a number of negative life events prior to residing with their grandparents. These adverse experiences place grandchildren at a greater risk for social, emotional, and behavioural problems. A caregiver’s level of commitment to their relationship with a child has important implications on the caregiver’s experience as a carer as well as child developmental outcomes. There has been extensive research on the impact of caregiver commitment in the area of foster care families. However, there is a gap in the literature in relation to commitment amongst grandparents raising grandchildren. There are two main research aims for the present research: 1) develop a coding system to measure commitment amongst grandparent caregivers, and 2) examine the relationship between grandparent commitment, grandparent mental health, and the social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties among grandchildren. The following thesis, which is comprised of two studies, used archival data to examine the research aims. Study One involved the development of the Grandparent Commitment Coding System, which was adapted from a measure of commitment commonly used in the foster care literature. Qualitative responses from 183 grandparent caregivers were scored by two independent raters using the Grandparent Commitment Coding System. The scale was found to have good internal consistency, with a Cronbach’s alpha coefficient of .77. Study Two examined the relationships between grandparent commitment, grandparent mental health, and child social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties. It was hypothesised that grandparent commitment would moderate the relationship between grandparent psychological distress and child difficulties. It was also hypothesised that high social support and low life stressors would mediate the impact that grandparent’ psychological distress has on child difficulties. The study sample consisted of the same 183 participants from Study One. Self-report measures were administered to obtain information on the mental health of grandparents, perceived social support for grandparents, major life stressors, and child adjustment. Grandparent commitment scores obtained from Study One were used in Study Two. As predicted, results indicated a significant positive relationship between grandparent psychological distress and child difficulties. Grandparent psychological distress was also significantly associated with grandparent commitment. Contrary to expectations, grandparent commitment did not appear to moderate the impact of grandparent psychological distress on child outcomes. High social support and low life stressors were not found to mediate the impact that grandparent’ psychological distress has on child outcomes. Implications, limitations, and directions for future research are highlighted.
Keyword Grandparents
Grandchildren
Commitment
Caregiving

 
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Created: Tue, 29 Jan 2013, 18:14:24 EST by Amy Kwan on behalf of Faculty of Social & Behavioural Sciences