‘Being a Good Grandmother’: the Normative Expectations Attached to the Role of Grandmother in Czech Families Today Cover Image

„Být dobrou babičkou“ – normativní očekávání spojená s rolí babičky v současné české rodině
‘Being a Good Grandmother’: the Normative Expectations Attached to the Role of Grandmother in Czech Families Today

Author(s): Jaroslava Hasmanová Marhánková
Subject(s): Sociology, Cultural Anthropology / Ethnology, Preschool education, Family and social welfare
Published by: Sociologický ústav AV ČR, v.v.i.
Keywords: care; family; grandmothers; grandparents; intergenerational solidarity

Summary/Abstract: This article focuses on two generations of women in the Czech Republic who are currently mothers or grandmothers of young children. Based on interviews that were carried out with 20 mothers and 20 grandmothers of children under the age of 10, the article analyses what kinds of expectations are attached to the role of grandmother and how the norm of ‘good’ grandmother is constructed by different generations of women. The author identifies three strong norms of grandmothering: the norm of non-interference, the norm of constant availability, and the norm of activity. The narratives of both the mothers and the grandmothers reflected a strong ‘gendered contact’ between the two generations, which is based on a generational transfer of caring responsibilities. A new norm, the norm of activity, is mainly constructed by mothers and it involves the idea that a ‘good’ grandmother provides not just instrumental care but above all ‘adventures’. Both the mothers and the grandmothers pointed out how the family role of grandmothers had changed compared to past generations of grandmothers. The article analyses the (changing) norms of grandmothering in relation to the changing cultural representation of ageing and especially in relation to ideas about active ageing, and it highlights some of the contradictory expectations that are attached to the role of grandmothers as a result of the inconsistent/clashing demands being made of them.

  • Issue Year: 51/2015
  • Issue No: 05
  • Page Range: 737-760
  • Page Count: 24
  • Language: Czech