Intergenerational relationships: marital conflict involving grandparent issues

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Beaton, John M.
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University of Guelph

The paradox within intergenerational relationships between family solidarity and conflict requires more exploration (Bengtson, Rosenthal & Burton, 1996). While research attests to strong family bonds it fails to demonstrate how interactions across generations lead to conflict within couple relationships. This study included 18 younger couples who discussed an unresolved issue related to grandparent involvement to determine (a) what and how interactions with grandparents lead to conflict within couple's relationships, (b) how couples resolve this conflict within their own relationship and (c) whether they confront or avoid these conflicts. Couples engaged in conflict discussions about handling holidays; grandparents spoiling and disciplining grandchildren; grandparents living with families; confronting grandparents; intervening with grandparents' health; and accepting grandparents' money. The majority of couples decided to discuss the conflict within their marital relationship rather than directly confronting grandparents about an unresolved issue.

Marital conflict, Grandparent issues, Conflict discussions, Grandchildren, Family solidarity