Grandchildren’s Relationship with Grandparents and Well-Being after Parental Divorce
Maaike Jappens, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Greater longevity and lower fertility rates have given more room to grandparent-grandchild relations. High divorce rates imply that many grandparents and grandchildren will be confronted with a divorce in the parent generation. We investigate whether relationships with grandparents can moderate the impact of a parental divorce on the emotional well-being of grandchildren. We use a large random sample of grandchildren who participated in the survey “Divorce in Flanders” and study different indicators of emotional well-being – self-esteem, depressive feelings, mastery and life satisfaction. Our findings show that the quality of grandchild-grandparent relationships is positively associated to grandchildren’s emotional well-being, particularly when parents are divorced. This suggest that, next to parents, grandparents can play a role in buffering the often negative impact of a divorce on grandchildren’s emotional well-being. Moreover, these results are in keeping with the idea of grandparents as ‘family guards’ who are activated in times of need.