Ecological approach to Human development

Grandparents as Parents: An Ecological Approach to Programming
June 21, 2014 – 04:18 pm
Figure 1. Grandparents/grandchild system


Grandparent-headed households have increased over 60% since the beginning of this decade (Children's Defense Fund, 1997), and predictions are that this family type will continue to increase dramatically. Substance abuse, incarceration, mental and physical illness, teenage pregnancy and welfare reform have significantly impacted the numbers of grandparents who find themselves in the role of parent once again. This paper describes the process used to develop curricular resources which can be utilized by professionals to provide supportive and educational services to custodial grandparents.

Key Words: Custodial grandparents, Grandparent-headed families, Societal influences, Curricular resources, Educational materials, Support services

  1. Dr. Andrea B. Smith is Professor, Teaching, Learning and Leadership, College of Education, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI
  2. Tammi Vacha-Haase is Professor, Psychology Department, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

Grandparents are being recycled as parents. Millions of grandparents have returned to the role of parent. Events such as divorce, loss of job or home, the death or incarceration of an adult child with children, or a teen pregnancy may abruptly propel a grandparent into a caregiving role. Grandparents may also step in when the needs of children go unmet for a period of time because of underlying situations such as child abuse, AIDS, substance abuse, and even the effects of welfare reform. (Becklund, 1993; De Toledo & Brown, 1995; Jendrek, 1994; and Yorkey, 1993). While the idea of children living with grandparents is not new, the frequency of grandparent care has increased and the reasons for this phenomenon have changed.

These problems, and others, continue to increase the stress on families, and particularly the extended family. Any one of these conditions can seriously strain the ability of family members to sustain the integrity of the family system, and many times multiple conditions further compound the difficulties. Grandparents are called upon in increasing numbers to provide support and assistance to families in need of outside help (Burton, 1992; Creighton, 1991; Minkler, Driver, Roe & Bedeian, 1993; Minkler & Roe, 1993). This support and assistance now often involves full-time parenting of grandchildren.

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Popular Q&A
What is the development psychology and approaches to the study of psychology that explains human behavior

"Developmental Psychology" is the study of the changing psychology in people as they mature and grow. "Behavioral Psychology" is the study of psychology by the observations of behaviors such as a rat pressing a lever or running a maze to get a treat. All of the different forms of psychology try to study and explain human behavior, whether it is studied directly or indirectly.

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