CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

Grandchildren as Unifiers in Intergenerational Relations

Mana Nakagawa, University of Pennsylvania

Division: Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Sociology

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Kristen Harknett, Kathryn Edin

Date of this Version: 01 May 2007

This document has been peer reviewed.



Declining marriage rates and the corresponding rise in single-parent families is associated with the increased likelihood that children spend at least part of their childhood living in poverty. Intergenerational kin networks, however, can serve as an important safety net for children whose parents are unable to provide appropriate instrumental or emotional support for their own children. This paper uses data from the Time, Love, and Cash Among Couples with Children (TLC3) study, a longitudinal qualitative examination of parents who recently had a child together, to explore the processes that underlie these intergenerational relationships. Looking at unmarried mothers' and fathers' reports of their relationships with their parents, we build a typology of intergenerational relationships and solidarity that highlights the important role of grandchildren as a unifying element of intergenerational contact. The grandchild generation serves an important role in bringing all three generations into contact with one another, regardless of whether parents and grandparents have harmonious or tension-filled relationships. These results suggest that increased mutual understanding between grandparent and parent generations, especially of each others' expectations regarding involvement with the grandchild, may lead to more harmonious intergenerational relationships that benefit all generations.

Suggested Citation

Nakagawa, Mana, "Grandchildren as Unifiers in Intergenerational Relations" 01 May 2007. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 02 July 2007

This document has been peer reviewed.




Creative Commons License Articles in CUREJ are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.