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Resilience and spirituality among grandparents raising their grandchildren




Thill, Kelsey, author
Fruhauf, Christine A., advisor
Matheson, Jennifer, committee member
Bundy-Fazioli, Kim, committee member

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Today, increasing numbers of grandparents are responsible for raising their grandchildren. Grandparent caregivers face altered developmental paths compared to their noncaregiving peers. Past research has focused on health concerns and coping mechanisms that assist these grandparents in their parenting role, but have largely ignored or minimized the role of resilience. In particular, and important to this research project, spirituality as a component of resilience has not been explored among researchers examining grandparents who parent grandchildren. This study explored how caregiving grandparents utilize spirituality to foster resilience in their daily lives. Guided by the Resilience Theory, Erikson's Psychosocial Theory of Development and the Phenomenological Theory, one-on-one interviews were conducted with eleven grandparents (3 male, 8 female; age range 49-79; M = 68). Surveys were also orally administered, which included the Intrinsic Spirituality Scale and the Brief Resilience Scale. While the qualitative results revealed that caregiving grandparents are remarkably resilient, these findings were not supported by the descriptive statistics. The grandparents who stressed the importance of spirituality in their lives verbally expressed greater resilience than those who did not place as much emphasis on the importance of spirituality in their lives. Contrary to theorizing, qualitative results demonstrated that resilience grows from spirituality, not vice versa. Recommendations for future research and implications for practice are provided.


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