New book from Harrington Meyer looks at growing role of grandmothers in caring for grandchildren

Harrington-Meyer,-MadonnaYoung working mothers are not the only ones who are struggling to balance family life and careers. Madonna Harrington Meyer, professor of sociology, has written a new book, Grandmothers at Work: Juggling Families and Job (NYU Press), which examines how many grandmothers’ roles in the lives of their grandchildren have changed from voluntary joy to stressful obligation.

Many middle-aged American women face this dilemma as they provide routine care for their grandchildren while simultaneously pursuing careers and trying to make ends meet. Grandmothers at Work is based primarily on 48 in-depth interviews conducted in 2009-2012 with grandmothers who juggle working and minding their grandchildren.   Harrington Meyer writes that all of the grandmothers interviewed for the book are pleased to spend time with their grandchildren, but many are finding that taking on more responsibility for caring for their grandchildren requires them to readjust their own work schedules, use vacation time and sick leave, gut retirement accounts, and postpone retirement.

While most research has focused on young working mothers, Meyer’s work provides a unique perspective on a phenomenon faced by millions of women in America today. 05/12/14