Turning points in long distance grandparent-grandchild relationships

Lauren R. Bangerter, Vincent Waldron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


This study examines changes in long-distance relationships between grandparents and their adolescent grandchildren by identifying relational turning points and trajectories. Qualitative analysis of data collected from interviews with grandparents yielded 100 unique turning points. Constant comparative analysis revealed eight distinct categories of relational turning points; Spending Time Together, Family Relational Dynamics, Geographic Distance, Lack of Relational Investment, Use of Technology, Relational Investment, Lack of Free Time, and Grandchild Gaining Independence. These varied in the degree to which they positively or negatively impacted relational closeness. Application of the Retrospective Interview Technique (RIT) yielded five distinctive relational trajectories: Decrease in Closeness, Increase in Closeness, Multidimensional Changes in Closeness, Minimal Changes in Closeness, and Consistent Relational Closeness. The results expose the communicative challenges faced by long-distance-grandparents, the diversity of these relationships, and the ways in which grandparenting bonds change over time. Implications for an enriched understanding of grandparenting relationships and practical applications for families are explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-97
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Aging Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Adolescent grandchildren
  • Long distance grandparenting
  • Relational closeness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health Policy


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