Date of Award

Summer 8-27-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Peiwei Li, PhD


This dissertation aims to understand the experience of grandparent caregivers in the United States, exploring well-being and identity development as grandparents navigate their roles, both familiar and different at the same time. The investigation of well-being and identity development as they intersect and interact is crucial to understanding the complex and multilayered shifts this population faces as they transition into different roles. Grandparent caregivers experience impacts to their emotional well-being, physical health and financial status while simultaneously experiencing an impact to their identity development, carrying with it unique challenges.

This narrative inquiry obtains rich narratives from 9 participants, recruited from an ongoing collection of grandparent caregiver support groups in the Northeast region, and through a community sample. Data were collected through interviews, visual representation, observation and field notes. Thematic analysis was applied to produce 7 themes and 34 subthemes. Results showed that relationships are interwoven throughout grandparent experience and accompanied major themes in expression of well-being, identity development and resilience. Within well-being, participants voiced their navigation of physical and emotional health, often dependent on relationships with the biological parents of their grandchildren. Echoing their struggles emotionally, participants narrated ways in which their shifts in roles bring challenges in their identity development, again experiencing impact on the decision making and involvement of the biological parents of their grandchildren. Participants voiced and exhibited their resilience through their adaptability and overall work to maintain positivity in their roles. These major themes together lead to implications for professionals supporting this population. Additional focus on the family units as a whole, involvement of the biological parents and resources for grandparents to better navigate these dynamics are needed. Identity and well-being, among relationships and resilience as emergent themes converge to show significance in grandparent caregiver experience, and create space for further exploration into each with this population.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Number of Pages