Intergenerational and Non

By: Amy Rothblum and Lisa Martin
Generational Relationships
Nontraditional grandparenting roles
Non-normative romantic relationships
Catharine Zata Jones
and Michael Douglas
◦ Roughly 30 years
◦ Average period between when children grow up and
birth their offspring.
◦ Skipping over one generation to the next
For younger people, most high quality
communication occurs with grandparents
◦ Most frequent
◦ First source of intergenerational communication
Mutually beneficial
◦ Grandchild has a more effective transition to
◦ Grandparent has a higher social interaction and life
(Harwood, 2007)
Closer to grandmothers than grandfathers
Closer to maternal grandmother
Grandchildren are more fond of healthier and
younger grandparents
Why do you think that might be?
Affiliation: Expression of love
Pride: Express accomplishments to others
Exchange: Describing what they do for their
grandchild and what their grandchildren do
for them
Distance: Geographically distant or distant
due to grandchild’s parents
Grandparents are celebrated
Founded by Marian McQuade
Originally started to help the lonely elderly in
nursing homes
Hoped to persuade grandchildren to gain
knowledge and history
Celebrated the first Sunday after Labor Day
◦ September 9, 2012
◦ Grandparents Day
Off-time Grandparents
 Typically very young
 If one becomes a grandparent to early, they
may not feel “ready” and will resist the identity
role that is expected
Working full time
Raising children of their own
Difficulty integrating children with grandchild
How might this be hard for the parent as well?
◦ Leads to grandparent rights
◦ Especially hard if grandchild is not with custodial
Grandparents raising grandchildren
 Strengths:
◦ Pride
◦ Joy
◦ Feeling of being needed
Social isolation
Shifts in social networks
Physical, emotional, psychological strain
Grandparents raising grandchildren:
negotiating the complexities of role-identity
 Feelings of disappointment and frustration
 Lack of adequate financial and social support
 Foster cares appreciated for what they do,
while they were expected to do the same job
without government support
 Felt unjustly blamed
(Backhouse and Graham, 2011)
Grandparents are taking on a more
predictable parent role
Problem lies with middle generation issues
◦ substance abuse
◦ child abuse
◦ neglect
◦ teenage pregnancy
◦ parental unemployment
(Turner and West, 2006)
Ashton Kutcher and
Demi Moore
 Violates social norms with regard to partner age
differences and romantic involvement
Evolutionary Theory
 Men select women who are able to bare children
◦ Men can be with young women because men are more
fertile later in age than women
 Women select men who can provide them security and
 Men accept women -15 yrs., women accept men +10 yrs
(Cupach, 2011)
Have these roles changed?
Society does not favor older women dating
younger men.
◦ The term cougar is coined
◦ Connotative vs. denotative meanings
What do you think of this term since men do not
have one?
Double standard
◦ Older men can date younger women
◦ Negative connotation with women dating younger men
Why do you think this is a double standard?
Hue Hefner
Extreme cases
◦ Hollywood
◦ News Story
Which is more acceptable?
Negative Assumptions
◦ Power imbalance-male vs. female
◦ Clashes of personal values- evolutionary theory
◦ Less support-family, friends, society
Positive Assumptions
◦ Increase life satisfaction (grandparent to grandchild)
◦ Less jealousy
◦ More trust
Older women/younger men: A look at the
implications of age difference in marriage
 Women reported to being attracted to younger
men before marriage
 Half of the couples interviewed for the study
agreed that there were issues with power, money
and work in different developmental stages
 Some hesitant to tell others about relationship
for fear of judgment prior to marriage
 Men saw women's maturity and stability as
(Proulx, Caron & Logue, 2006)
Changing the scripts: Midlife women’s
sexuality in contemporary US film
 Society is embracing phenomenon of the
cougar through media
TV land’s The Cougar and NBC Age of Love
Potential market is baby boomer women
This programming embraces a women’s sexuality
However, these women are “trimmed, dyed and fit”
and do not match the average looking 40 year old
(Weitz, 2009)
How are the non-normative relationships
represented in other cultures?
◦ Mostly looked at in the Western societies
◦ May be different in areas where arranged marriages
are customary
Further research will look at a more diverse
sample in age gap romances
◦ Homosexual or lesbian couples
◦ Interracial relationships
(Cupach, 2011)
Backhouse, J., & Graham, A. (2012). Grandparents
raising grandchildren: Negotiating the
complexities of role-identity conflict. Child &
Family Social Work, 17(3), 306-315.
Connor, S. (2006). Grandparents raising
grandchildren: Formation, disruption and
intergenerational transmission of attachment.
Australian Social Work, 59(2), 172-184.
Cupach, W. R., & Spitzberg, B, H. (2011). The
dark side of close relationships II. New York:
Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.
Harwood, J. (2007). Understanding
communication and aging. Los Angeles: Sage
National Grandparents Day Council.
Grandparents Day.(2012). National
grandparents day. Date Retrieved October 30,
2012 from
Proulx, N., Caron, S. L., & Logue, M. (2006). Older
women/younger men: A look at the implications
of age difference in marriage. Journal of Couple &
Relationship Therapy, 5(4), 43-64.
Turner, L. H., & West, R. (2006). The family
communication sourcebook. Thousand Oaks:
Sage Publications.
Weitz, R. (2010). Changing the scripts: Midlife
women’s sexuality in contemporary U.S. film.
Sexuality & Culture, 14(1), 17-32.

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