The Dynamics of Daily Life in Custodial Grandmothers

Frank J. Infurna, Saul A. Castro, Britney A. Webster, Megan L. Dolbin-MacNab, Gregory C. Smith, D. Max Crowley, Carol Musil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Guided by a life-course perspective, we examine the nature of daily life among custodial grandmothers (CGM) through documenting daily positive and negative affect, reporting daily negative and positive events, and emotional reactivity/responsiveness to daily negative and positive events. We also examine whether CGM age, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and social relationship quality with grandchild are associated with each indicator. Methods: We applied multilevel models to 200 CGM (Mage = 61, SD = 5.66) who were recruited from across the United States and completed a daily survey for 14 consecutive days prior to commencing a randomized clinical trial. Results: Older age and reporting fewer ACEs were associated with better overall and less variability in daily well-being. Positive events were reported on 83% of days and negative events were reported on 56% of days. Daily well-being was lower when a negative event was reported and higher when a positive event was reported. Reporting more ACEs was associated with greater exposure to daily negative events and stronger gains in daily well-being when a daily positive event was reported. Older age was associated with lesser declines in daily well-being on days when a negative event was reported. Discussion: In accordance with the life-course perspective, our findings illustrate how the timing of being a CGM (age) and the cumulative nature of development (ACEs) affect daily well-being and negative and positive events for CGM. Our discussion focuses on resources to consider when building resilience-focused interventions for promoting the health and well-being of CGM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)456-468
Number of pages13
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023


  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Custodial grandmothers
  • Daily positive and negative affect
  • Multilevel modeling
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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