Many grandparents are involved in young grandchildren’s lives, but we know little about grandparents’ support of adult grandchildren. This study assessed frequency of different types of support that grandparents provided to adult grandchildren and examined potential explanations for such support (e.g., affection, grandchildren’s needs, parents’ support).
Grandparents in The Family Exchanges Study Wave 2 (N = 198; Mage = 80.19) reported how often they provided six types of support to a focal adult grandchild.
Multiple regressions revealed that grandparents’ affective ties with an adult grandchild were associated with more frequent listening, emotional support, and companionship. Grandparents also provided more frequent emotional support to adult grandchildren when parents incurred life problems, and more frequent companionship and financial support when parents were not employed. Moreover, grandparents’ listening, advice, and companionship with adult grandchildren were positively associated with the parents providing these types of support to grandchildren.
Consistent with solidarity theory, grandparents experiencing greater affective ties with their grandchildren are invested in these ties regardless of family needs. Findings also offer limited evidence for the family watchdog model in that grandparents provide more support to grandchildren when parents incur problems, even though those parents may still provide support.