A new book, Grandparents in Cultural Context is a compelling read calling special attention to the roles of grandfathers and societies seldom represented in literature. This one-of-a-kind book also cites hundreds of references previously unavailable in English-language publications.

Ziarat Hossain
Ziarat Hossain, Regent’s Lecturer and professor of family and child studies.

The book, co-edited by Ziarat Hossain, Regent’s Lecturer and professor of family and child studies at The University of New Mexico’s College of Education, discusses grand-parenting from 12 diverse societies across four continents and integrates authors from 15 different countries. It pulls from cultural, historical and economic influences to drive the discussion. Each chapter includes relevant proverbs, relevant customs and case studies, says Hossain.

“The primary focus of my research is on parenting and the fathers’ role in child development across cultural communities,” said Hossain. “I personally believe that the parenting role never ends, and grandparenting is a manifestation of the parenting role in later life. Therefore, my book reflects a logical extension of my work on parenting and fathering.”

Hossain and his co-editor, David Shwalb from Southern Utah University, decided to develop this volume when they initially noticed a significant lack of scientific documentation and academic research focused on grandparents. Together, they gathered information that solidifies grandparents as playing an important role and providing invaluable support for children and young parents, and how grandparenting is different depending on culture and society.

National Grandparents Day

  • National Grandparents Day was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in 1978.
  • Many people consider the efforts of Marian McQuade, a housewife in West Virginia, to be instrumental in the day of observance.
  • In the 1970s, McQuade worked to educate people about the important contributions of senior citizens made as well as contributions, if asked.
  • Her efforts helped convince the White House to create National Grandparents Day as a national day of observance.
  • A presidential proclamation on Sept. 6, 1979, made this day official – designating Sunday, Sept. 9, 1979, (being the “first Sunday of September following Labor Day”) as National Grandparents Day.
  • Each year the president issues a proclamation to keep the tradition going.
  • Grandparents Day has both an official flower and song. The official flower is the Forget-Me-Not, and the song is Johnny Prill’s “A Song for Grandma and Grandpa.”
  • Both were chosen by the National Grandparents Day Council.

“The book integrates the progress that has been made in understanding grandparenthood over the past generation,” said Hossain. 

One topic in the book is the difference between western and non-western grandparents. Usually, grandparents in the U.S. and U.K. step into their grandchildren’s lives when they are needed and called upon, called the “non-interference” approach. While grandparents in countries such as Asia and Africa are so direct and active in their grandchild’s lives that they are considered the “two additional sets of parents.”

“Grandparents and grandchildren maintain a symbiotic relationship as grandparents care and socialize young grandchildren,” said Hossain. “Grandchildren are a source of psychological satisfaction for grandparents, who, in their old age, also receive care and affection from their grandchildren.”

Published by Routledge (2018), Grandparents in Cultural Context provides a long overdue global view of the changing roles of grandparents. It is relevant to psychology, gerontology, family studies, anthropology, family/comparative sociology, education, social work, gender studies, ethnic studies, psychiatry and international studies.

Practitioners, service providers, policymakers and internationally minded grandparents will enjoy this book.

For more information and to purchase the book, visit the website or Amazon.