• adolescent mothers;
  • grandparents;
  • intergenerational relations;
  • interpretive phenomenology

Purpose: To examine how young mothers who gave birth during adolescence extended and developed caregiving practices within the context of family relationships, caregiving traditions, and life events.

Design: Longitudinal, interpretive-phenomenological. A community-based sample in 1993 consisted of 13 of the 16 young mothers and 11 of the 18 grandparents who had participated in a 1988 study. Three male partners of the young mothers also participated in this 1993 study. Families resided in a Western metropolitan area in the United States.

Methods: Life history accounts of the intervening years, stories of family routines, and recent coping episodes of parenting were elicited through in-depth interviews with the young mothers and their male partners; one interview was conducted with grandparents. Data were analyzed using the interpretive approach.

Findings: Adversarial caregiving practices develop or change in the context of transformed family relationships.

Conclusions: Life-course and parenting experiences of young mothers are not private and located in the self, but are developed in interaction with others. Family-centered interventions are needed that support the efforts of young mothers and grandparents to become responsive caregivers.