Research Review: The role of grandparents in intergenerational support for families with disabled children: a review of the literature

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The family in late modernity faces demographic change. However, it is still apparent that intergenerational relationships and exchanges of resources are valued. There is a growing literature on the important role that grandparents play in their children's families. In contrast, there is limited research exploring the support grandparents provide to families with disabled children. This is an important gap in our knowledge, as families with disabled children frequently face additional caring responsibilities and emotional demands. From the studies that do exist, it is clear that grandparents' support to families with disabled children is generally valued. However, the literature remains partial: past studies are small-scale, focused upon parents' perceptions of support (especially mother's), and frequently based upon North American data. Recognizing these limitations and the fact that grandparents themselves have support needs which require consideration, this paper identifies key areas where important issues remain unanswered and further research is required. It argues that research is needed to begin untangling the different support needs of parents, grandparents and other family members, and the different effects of grandparent support that different family members' experience. Exploration of grandparents' own support needs also indicates the need for wider policy and service consideration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-101
Number of pages8
JournalChild and Family Social Work
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007


  • childcare
  • disabled children
  • family support
  • grandparents needs
  • grandparents
  • parents
  • CARE

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