“You don’t want to hurt his feelings”: Family leisure among grandparents and adult...
Leisure has a positive influence on family relationships by enhancing communication and cohesion among family members and is a crucial lens for the study of intergenerational relations.
Hebblethwaite, S. (2008) “You don’t want to hurt his feelings”: Family leisure among grandparents and adult grandchildren. Proceedings of the World Leisure Congress, 10th , Quebec City. Oral presentation #092, p. 25.
Leisure activities play an important role in the lives of families and in grandparent-grandchild relations (Mancini & Sandifer, 1995(. Researchers have found that leisure has a positive influence on family relationships by enhancing communication and cohesion among family members (Orthner & Mancini, 1990). Others have shown that family leisure may not be mutually satisfying for all family members and may cause substantial stress among mothers in particular (Shaw & Dawson, 2003).
Research focusing on family leisure, however has largely excluded the voices of older adults. The purpose of this interpretive study, therefore, was to develop an understanding of the experience of intergenerational family leisure for grandparents and their adult grandchildren were interviewed individually and described their experience of intergenerational family leisure. Using grounded theory methods to analyze the interview data, the stories of the grandparents and grandchildren provided valuable insight into the role that leisure plays in the intergenerational relationship.
The theorizing undertaken in the current study advances our understanding of grandparent-grandchild relationships and suggests conceptual connections between three important theoretical concepts: intergenerational ambivalence, intergenerational stake, and generativiity. Family leisure is a critical context for the development and expression of these three concepts. Generativity appears to develop across the life course and plays a central role in the family leisure experiences for both grandparents and their adult grandchildren.
Generativity also appears to influence the experience of intergenerational stake and suggests that grandparents who have stronger generative commitments may experience a greater generative stake in their relationship than their grandchildren. This perception of intergenerational stake, in turn, is linked to the experience of intergenerational ambivalence. When the grandchildren perceive that their grandparents have a stronger investment in their relationship then they do, they experience greater ambivalence. This ambivalence results from the grandchildren’s inability to reconcile the normative, structural expectations related to the need to spend time with their grandparents with their need to participate in a variety of other social relationships e.g.. peers, romantic partners.
Family leisure, therefore, is a crucial lens for the study of intergenerational relations and the interconnections among the three concepts.
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