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Time with Grandchildren: Subjective Well-Being Among Grandparents Living with Their Grandchildren

Abstract

The share of children living with grandparents has increased in recent years. Previous studies have examined how time with grandparents is associated with child well-being, but we know little about how grandparents fare in their time with grandchildren. We used diary data from the American Time Use Study (ATUS) to examine the association between grandparents’ time in activities with grandchildren and multiple measures of their subjective well-being in those activities. We used a subsample of co-residential grandparents from the American Time Use Study (N = 868 individuals; 2474 activities), paying close attention to potential differences between three-generational families (those with parents, grandparents and grandchildren living together) and grandfamilies (which do not include the parent generation). We examined subjective well-being (happiness, meaning, sadness, tiredness and stress) in relation to family type (three-generational or grandfamily) and grandchild presence during the activity, as well as other characteristics of the activity (e.g., type of activity, duration, etc.) and of the grandparent (i.e., demographic variables). This is the first study to address grandparent SWB as affective response to activities in relation to presence of grandchildren during those activities. Results of multilevel models show that grandparents living with their grandchildren experienced more happiness and more meaningfulness when they engaged in activities with their grandchildren compared to spending time alone or with other people. This relationship was partially moderated by family type, such that grandfamily grandparents experienced less happiness in time with grandchildren than alone, relative to grandparents in three-generational families.

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Correspondence to Christopher E. Near.

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Dunifon, R.E., Musick, K.A. & Near, C.E. Time with Grandchildren: Subjective Well-Being Among Grandparents Living with Their Grandchildren. Soc Indic Res 148, 681–702 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-019-02206-9

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Keywords

  • Grandparent subjective well-being
  • Grandparent activities
  • Grandfamilies
  • Three-generational families