Stepgrandparent-Stepgrandchild Relationships. Emotional Closeness and Frequency of Contact in Childhood and Adulthood

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 18:30
Oral Presentation
Anja STEINBACH, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany
Merril SILVERSTEIN, Syracuse University, USA
The many years of shared lives among family members in different generations have generally had a positive impact on relationships between grandparents and their grandchildren. However, high divorce and remarriage rates have led to nontraditional family forms such as step-families, challenging the durability of these relations. This paper focuses on emotional closeness and frequency of contact between step-grandparents and their step-grandchildren. Using data from the German Ageing Survey (DEAS) from 2014, we analyzed 465 relationships maintained with step-grandchildren and 7,710 relationships maintained with biological grandchildren, nested within 4,992 family units. Hierarchical linear regression results provided support for the hypothesis that, independent of other factors, step-grandparents feel less close to their step-grandchildren than biological grandparents to their biological grandchildren. In contrast, differences between step- and biological relationships in frequency of contact were explained by family members’ characteristics. Results are discussed in the context of the latent-matrix of kinship relations and the proliferation of complex extended families.