Young African‐American Multigenerational Families in Poverty: Quality of Mothering and Grandmothering

P. Lindsay Chase‐Lansdale*, Jeanne Brooks‐Gunn, Elise S. Zamsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

247 Scopus citations


Parenting practices (problem‐solving and disciplinary styles) in a sample of 99 young, low‐income, African‐American multigenerational families were examined, using home‐based observations of grandmothers and young mothers (mean age at first birth; 18.3; range = 13.3 to 25.5), interacting separately with 3‐year‐old children. A risk and resilience approach was applied in studying African‐American families' behavior in harsh social contexts, and included a consideration of the role of kin, shared child rearing between mothers and grandmothers, coresidence, and adolescent parenthood. Mothers and grandmothers did not differ in the mean level of the quality of their parenting practices. Similarly, few significant correlations in parenting quality across generations were evident, and these primarily involved negative dimensions of parenting between younger childbearers and grandmothers. No main effect of mothers' age at first birth on mothers' parenting was found. In contrast, there was a main effect of grandmother coresidence on both mothers' and grandmothers' parenting, which was negative. Moreover, the interaction between coresidence and mothers' age at first birth indicated that multigenerational families most likely to provide positive parenting were those where older mothers did not reside with the grandmother. Yet, in families with very young mothers, coresiding grandmothers showed higher quality of parenting than did non‐coresiding grandmothers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-393
Number of pages21
JournalChild development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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