Grandparents’ Support to Young Families: Variations by Adult Children’s Union Status†


Cooney, Teresa M. (2020). Grandparents' Support to Young Families: Variations by Adult Children's Union Status†. Journal of Marriage and Family.


Objective This study investigates whether grandparents' support to their children's families varies by the child's union status—single, cohabiting, or married. Background More young families today are headed by unmarried parents due to increases in nonmarital childbearing, cohabitation, and divorce, and these families have fewer resources than married-couple families. Grandparents can provide an important safety net to families in need. Although grandparents today possess a greater capacity to assist their children's families due to increased longevity, good health and financial well-being, little is known about whether their support varies based on their adult children's union status. Method Data are drawn from the 2015–2017 Add Health Parent Study (AHPS) (, a follow-up study of 2013 parents who participated in the 1995 Add Health Study with their adolescents. Respondents' reports of instrumental and financial support to children, ages 18–40, and their children are analyzed. Mixed effects logistic regressions estimate the likelihood of support to 399 cohabiting, 518 single, and 1959 married children. Follow-up regressions estimate amounts of support to those receiving any assistance. Results Grandparents are more likely to provide instrumental and financial assistance to cohabiting and single children than married children. Cohabiting females receive more hours of instrumental help from grandparents than married females. Single and cohabiting children receive higher levels of financial assistance than married children. Conclusion Grandparental support appears responsive to the needs of their adult children. Nontraditional families no longer receive less extended-family support. Grandparents today appear to play an important support role for their children's families.



Add Health parent study

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Journal of Marriage and Family


Cooney, Teresa M.

Year Published




Reference ID