"It's an advantage for both of them to have a life partner at their side. But grandfathers are more dependent on this than grandmothers when it comes to playing their grandparent role."
This is because a grandfather who still has his wife with him finds it easier to share in the life of his grandchildren.
"Grandmothers have traditionally had greater and more varied contact with the rest of the family, with responsibility for maintaining relationship," Knudsen observes.
"As a woman, mother and grandmother, norms for caring are clearer for her and she inspires the grandfather. A partner is accordingly important for contributing to the extended family.
"That applies particularly for men as they get older. In line with other studies of gender and partnership, we see here that men in particular benefit from marriage."
More shared lives
Both social and demographic changes underlie the substantial involvement by grandparents with their grandchildren. Three generations share more of their lives than before.
And new patterns are emerging, Knudsen reports: "We live longer and stay healthy for more of our lives. We're better off and communicate more closely".
"At the same time, today's parents are occupied with work and career. Unlike earlier generations, when children came before education and job, modern parents are often older and in full work when they become responsible for offspring."
Noting that this is where grandparents come in, he describes this as a win-win position. "Healthier and fitter grandparents who want to be with their grandchildren can be a big help to careerist parents in a hectic daily life".
"At the same time, little has changed where marriage and partnership are concerned. As before, men often marry women who are a few years you
|Contact: Knud Knudsen|
University of Stavanger