Tijdschrift voor Gerontologie en Geriatrie vol:24 issue:1 pages:3-11
Do young adult grandchildren find their grandparents important? What are the meanings that grandparents seem to have for these grandchildren? Those were the leading questions in the present study. Subjects were 239 university students (mean age: 19.5 years). They completed the Grandparents Meaning Scale, a recently developed 82-item instrument which probes for 11 a priori dimensions of meaning of grandparents for grandchildren: (I) Reliable alliance, (2) Affection and emotional support, (3) Reassurance of worth, (4) Practical and financial support, (5) Link with the past, (6) Acquaintance with aging, (7) Mentor and role-model, (8) Kinkeeper, (9) Mediator between children and parents, (10) Substitute caregiver, and (11) Distant figure. Subjects rated the importance and meaning of 222 grandmothers and 159 grandfathers. The results confirmed earlier findings. Young adult grandchildren generally found their grandparents important. Grandparents were valued because they provide their grandchildren with reassurance of worth and emotional support, and link their lives to the historical past. Grandmothers received higher scores than grandfathers on seven scales (1-4, 8-10). Grandfathers had higher scores on just two of the scales (5 and 11). Gender differences emerged with regard to the ratings of the grandmothers only. Girls had higher scores than boys on eight scales (1-3, 5, 7-10) and boys had a higher score on just one scale (11).