Grandmother involvement as a protective factor for early childhood social adjustment

Melissa A. Barnett, Laura V. Scaramella, Tricia K. Neppl, Lenna L. Ontai, Rand D. Conger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Despite high rates of grandmother involvement with young grandchildren, very little research has examined the associations between nonresidential grandmother involvement and grandchild social adjustment. The present study involved 127 families enrolled in the Family Transitions Project to consider the degree to which mother-reported maternal grandmother involvement buffered 3- and 4-year-old grandchildren from economic, parenting, and child temperamental risks for reduced social competence and elevated externalizing behaviors. Findings indicate that higher levels of mother-reported grandmother involvement reduced the negative association between observed grandchild negative emotional reactivity and social competence. Furthermore, higher levels of mother-reported grandmother involvement protected grandchildren from the positive association between observed mother harsh parenting and grandchild externalizing behaviors. These findings underscore the relevance of moving beyond the nuclear family to understand factors linked to social adjustment during early childhood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)635-645
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • Early childhood
  • Externalizing behaviors
  • Grandparents
  • Intergenerational relationships
  • Social competence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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