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Family rhythmsThe changing textures of family life in Ireland$
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Jane Gray, Ruth Geraghty, and David Ralph

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780719091513

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719091513.001.0001

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New grandparents: older people in the family

New grandparents: older people in the family

(p.167) 6 New grandparents: older people in the family
Family rhythms

Jane Gray

Ruth Geraghty

David Ralph

Manchester University Press

This chapter discusses the family life stage of ‘grandparenthood’ and addresses topical questions about flows of help and support between older and younger generations, and the increasing significance of grandparents in the lives of children and young adults. Ireland’s ‘new’ grandparents are distinctive, in part because many started their own families at comparatively younger ages and because of the ‘longevity revolution’ – the increased duration of healthy ageing - making them available to contribute to the family lives of their children and grandchildren to an unprecedented extent. The chapter uncovers compelling evidence that grandparents have consistently been held in high regard in Irish families and that they continue to play a central part in facilitating family connectedness and providing a sense of family continuity over time. It argues that power in inter-generational relationships shifted in favour of parents during the last century, and that the grandparental role remains an ambivalent one, despite parents growing need for help with childcare and other resources. As grandparents age, the flow of resources changes direction. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the challenges faced by Irish families and the Irish state as they plan to meet a growing demand for elder care.

Keywords:   Ascending familialism, Descending familialism, Inter-generational transfers, Longevity revolution, Inter-generational power relations

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