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Home > Research Articles > White And Black Grandmothers Have Different Responses To Raising Grandchildren


Saturday, September 21, 2002

September 18, 2002

(The Gerontological Society of America) -- Caregiving is a bigger burden on White grandmothers than it is on Black grandmothers, according to a study published in the September 2002 issue of Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences.

The study by Rachel A. Pruchno and Dorothy McKenney of Boston College looked at the psychological well-being of 867 grandmothers raising grandchildren in households that did not include either of the grandchild's parents.

The number of grandmothers who are living with and raising grandchildren in households that do not include either of the grandchild's parents continues to rise and is among the fastest growing type of household since 1990. By 2000, there were 2,354,121 grandparent caregivers in the United States.

The study found that "the quality of relationship with [the] grandchild's parents is significantly related to caregiving satisfaction for the White grandmothers, but this relationship is not significant for the Black grandmothers." According to Pruchno and McKenney family dynamics and the relationship with the grandchild's parents may be important in understanding the caregiving experiences of White grandmothers.

Race is a factor in both caregiving experience and psychological well-being. Historically Black and White grandmothers have played different roles within families, with Black grandmothers playing a more central role in holding kin networks together. Black grandmothers are less likely than White grandmothers to embrace norms of noninterference.

The study also found similarities in the experiences of Black and White grandmothers, notably in grandchild behavior problems, levels of help grandmothers provide, health, life satisfaction, and depression.