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Parented by Grandparents: Grandchildren Reflect on Their Lives

The number of grandchildren being parented by their grandparents has grown significantly over the previous few decades. However, there is a lack of research focused on the lived experience of grandchildren parented by their grandparents in comparison to the volumes to date on the experience and impact on grandparents who are parenting their grandchildren. The purpose of this study was to invite grandchildren, who have been parented by their grandparent(s) to speak about their experience and in this way, to make a contribution to the fledgling body of knowledge beginning to be gathered. What, in particular, do they want others to know about their experience? What suggestions do they want to make to inform and influence our practice as counsellors, teachers, social workers, policy makers and grandparents involved in a parenting role? These questions formed the basis for this research. Seven young people aged between seventeen and twenty-four, five females and two males, were interviewed. As far as it has been possible to establish, this is the first research on this topic based in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Through the individual and group interview process, the young adults showed insight, maturity and demonstrated the ability to articulate their thoughts and feelings with a capacity beyond their years. Contrary to the dominant discourse in the published literature on this topic, which highlights emotional and behavioural difficulties, these young people were clearly thriving, going forward strongly in their lives and giving a lot of the credit for this to their grandparents' willingness to take them on and see them through. They demonstrated a keen awareness and appreciation for the implications of their situation for their grandparents, including the politics of inequity and the struggle to provide on a limited budget. They have strongly recommended government funding for grandparents/kin raising grandchildren is the same as for foster carers. Most wondered what life might have been like, had they grown up in the idealized nuclear family construct, however, they also highlighted the wisdom their respective grandparents offered and would not want to have missed out on the opportunity to have developed the close connection that being raised by their grandparents provided.
Type of thesis
Lee, S. (2016). Parented by Grandparents: Grandchildren Reflect on Their Lives (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10579
University of Waikato
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