Sunday, 20 February 2011
Extracts from UN report.
MEN IN FAMILIES and Family Policy in a Changing World
Fathering across generations
Fathering occurs across generations. Grandparents, for example, apart from fathering their adult children, are increasingly involved in the support and care of their grandchil- dren as a result of labour migration, women’s participation in work outside the home, and mortality resulting from violence and HIV/AIDS. In addition, a body of research indicates that patterns of fatherhood recur across generations. For example, in the United States, early fatherhood, both during the teen years and in early twenties, was much more likely to occur if young men had not grown up with their own fathers. Young fathers were also less likely to be living with their children if their own fathers had not lived in residence with them throughout childhood (Furstenberg and Weiss, 2000).These find- ings have also been reported in South Africa (Swartz and Bhana, 2009).
We review below some of the reasons for increased involvement in children’s lives among grandfathers, the roles grandfathers play and some of the potential benefits of grandfather engagement with children.
In addition to fathers providing for their own children over a longer period of time, there is a growing trend for grandparents to support grandchildren. In the United States in 2000, for instance, 4.5 million grandparents were in charge of grandchildren in the absence of parents. This was up from 2.2 million documented in 1970 (Bullock, 2005). The presence of grandparents in the lives of grandchildren has been an added advantage in underprivileged families in the United States and Europe (Gerard, Landry-Meyer and Roe, 2006). Bullock (2005) noted that children from single-mother families who lived with at least one grandparent did as well or better than children from married- parent families and that, in particular, the presence of a grandfather is associated with the availability of better economic resources to grandchildren, compared with families where there are only grandmothers.
Grandfather care of younger generations
Grandmothers generally provide more care than grandfathers to grandchildren. For ex- ample, cross-national European survey research showed that 26 per cent of grandfathers provided childcare almost weekly or more in the last year in contrast to 34 per cent of grandmothers (Hank and Buber 2009). Grandparent care is most common in areas where co-residence rates are high. Grandfathers are more involved when their spouses are in- volved and grandsons aged 12 years or over are more likely to choose the maternal grand- father as the favoured grandparent in some Societies (Mann, Kahn and Leeson, 2009).