Because the majority of adolescent mothers do not marry, they likely spend the first few years after the child's birth in a multigenerational household. Findings suggest that the presence of a grandmother in the home appears to be both beneficial and harmful to the adolescent parent and her child. Grandmothers often assist the adolescent mother with childcare responsibilities and provide additional financial resources. Their presence in the home is beneficial to the health and development of low birth weight infants born to young mothers (Pope 1993). Grandmother support for older adolescent mothers also is associated with the mother completing her education, especially if the grandmother provides childcare.
However, coresidence with a grandmother may not always foster optimal childrearing environments. The competing developmental needs of young mothers (e.g., autonomy, school, work, childcare) and young grandmothers (e.g., adult midlife, work, relationships, parenting, unanticipated childcare demands) combined with their likely economic struggle often result in stressful living arrangements and consequently less supportive and beneficial environments for the adolescent and her offspring. In some cases, an adolescent mother may assume less responsibility for the care of her child, leaving an already overburdened grandmother in charge. As the grandmother's stress increases, the quality of the care she provides may diminish. Yet studies show that when young mothers have mature, flexible, and autonomous interactions with their own mothers, they are more likely to be emotionally supportive, affective, and authoritative parents to their own child (Brooks-Gunn and Chase-Lansdale 1995).
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