Being there yet not interfering: the paradoxes of grandparenting

Vanessa May, Jennifer Mason and Lynda Clarke

in Contemporary grandparenting

Published by Policy Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9781847429681
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9781447307624 | DOI:
Being there yet not interfering: the paradoxes of grandparenting

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This chapter, which is based on a secondary analysis of qualitative interviews with 46 grandparents, focuses on ‘normative talk’ about grandparenting. We have identified two main cultural norms of grandparenting, namely that grandparents should ‘not interfere’ and ‘be there’. We shall also argue that these ‘grandparenting norms’ conflict with others that are significant for contemporary grandparents, specifically norms about good parenting, and about the moral value of independence and self determination. Such conflicts are likely to produce inherent paradoxes in the meaning and experience of contemporary grandparenting, which we argue are best understood through the conceptual lens of ambivalence. The chapter concludes with a discussion of some of the limitations of the data and the analysis, and with suggestions for the development of further work in this area.

Keywords: Grandparenting; Parenting; Norms; Normative talk; Culture; Ambivalence; Interfering; Solidarity

Chapter.  7755 words. 

Subjects: Marriage and the Family

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