Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Susan Marcus

Abstract

Researchers have documented the increasing role of grandparents who provide care for their grandchildren; however, few have studied extended family reconciliation after grandparents assumed their primary care. This study explored the reconciliation experiences of 12 grandparents who were primary caretakers of their grandchildren. Using Moustakasâ??s phenomenological research approach, the participants were interviewed about their experiences of the relationship triad (grandparentâ??grandchild, grandparentâ??adult child, parentâ??child). Attachment theory and family systems theory were the conceptual frameworks to explore the central research question, which addressed the meaning of extended family reconciliation for grandparents who become primary caregivers of grandchildren. Using NVivo, the interview data were coded and grouped into themes of shared meaning. The results revealed 4 distinct themes: watching my adult child struggle; recognizing challenges; my grandchildâ??s wellbeing; and communicating with my grandchild. Further, the lived experience revealed that extended family reconciliation was largely dependent upon the adult childâ??s willingness, readiness, and capability to participate in the reconciliation process. Results of this study have the potential to benefit children in their grandparentsâ?? care by providing insights into the reconciliation experience, with meaningful results to be shared with the professional community and grandparents who care for their grandchildren.

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