Roles Changes and Life Strategies of Chinese Rural Migrant Grandparent Caregivers



The phenomenon of rural migrant grandparent caregivers has increased dramatically over the past several decades. Grandparent caregivers often face multiple challenges in their caregiving roles. This study attempts to understand the Chinese rural migrant grandparenthood and their roles changes and life strategies. Using a qualitative approach, thirty-two grandparents participated in five focus group interviews. The findings reveal that main activities of Chinese rural migrant grandparent caregivers are raising grandchildren and doing housework, their roles in urban life are characterized by one-dimensional. Meanwhile, their role cluster in rural life including caring roles, social roles and productive roles dissolve gradually. To cope with changing roles in their new lives, grandparent caregivers used strategies such as maintaining independence, acquiring new knowledge and developing new interests, making new friends and building new circles. Most caregiving grandparents are vulnerable to a host of problems, including physical disability; psychological stress; insufficient knowledge; decreased income; social isolation. As society looks more to grandparent caregivers to assume parental responsibilities as a preference to babysitter or institutional care, systems including government, non-profit organizations, communities, universities and families should develop innovative, comprehensive, and evidence-based methods to enhance grandparent caregivers’ well-being.


Grandparent caregivers; Roles changes; Social networks; Grandchildren

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