The Legacy of a Grandparent's Divorce: Consequences for Ties Between Grandparents and Grandchildren

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Abstract

This study assesses the implications of divorce in the grandparent generation for grandparent-grandchild relationships. The sample of 538 grandparents comes from the Iowa Youth and Families Project. Results indicate that many aspects of grandparenting are negatively associated with ever experiencing a divorce. Some of the negative effects of divorce are explained by ever-divorced grandparents' greater geographic distance from, and weaker bonds to, their adult children. Negative effects of divorce are stronger for grandfathers and paternal grandparents. Furthermore, a good grandparent-parent relationship can compensate for the negative effects of a grandparent's divorce on relations with grandchildren. Implications of these findings are discussed in the context of the increasing percentage of individuals moving into the later years who have experienced a divorce.

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