Communications Project

Document Type:Dissertation
Name:Alan C. Taylor
Title:Perceptions of Intergenerational Bonds: The Comparison Between Grandfathers and their Adult Grandchildren
Degree:Doctor of Philosophy
Department:Family and Child Development
Committee Chair: Michael J. Sporakowski
Committee Members:Katherine Allen
Rosemary Blieszner
Jay Mancini
Karen Roberto
Keywords:intergenerational bonds, grandfathers, adult grandchildren
Date of defense:June 25, 1998
Availability:Release the entire work for Virginia Tech access only.
After one year release worldwide only with written permission of the student and the advisory committee chair.


The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions held by grandfathers and their adult grandchildren and to compare their perceptions of bonding within their intergenerational relationships. The sample consisted of 8 Latter-Day Saint grandfathers residing in Virginia and West Virginia who were between 62 and 88 years of age. For each grandfather interviewed, an adult grandson and an adult granddaughter over the age of 21, living within 250 miles, were also interviewed.

The study was guided by two theoretical frameworks: a phenomenological perspective and symbolic interactionism. In addition, ideas, from attachment and social support, also contributed to the formation of the study. Finally, conceptual ideas from a preliminary model of intergenerational bonding were involved in the development and implementation of this study. The study was conducted utilizing a qualitative method of inquiry. Data were collected through qualitative in-depth interviews, and the schedules were developed by the researcher.

First, both grandfathers and their adult grandchildren reported similar perceptions concerning areas such as the emotional closeness they experienced within the intergenerational relationship, the importance of knowing one's ancestors, and the grandfather's influence on the grandchildren's values and beliefs. Not all perceptions were found to be similar among the intergenerational groups however.

Second, grandfathers and their adult grandchildren reported being highly involved in intergenerational activities. The most frequently mentioned type of activity reported was recreational/outdoor activities. Gender differences were found and discussed regarding the activities mentioned by grandsons and granddaughters.

Third, four themes emerged from these data, three of which seemed to promote intergenerational closeness. They included: engaging in frequent contact, serving one another, and being a part of a conversational family. The fourth theme regarded the strong application of LDS religious principles within these grandfather-adult grandchild relationships. Implications and future research directions are also discussed.

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