Grandparenting at a distance: beliefs and practices regarding relationships with grandchildren in Polish spatially mobile families

This project is funded by National Science Centre in Poland and is led by Dr Weronika Kloc-Nowak at the University of Warsaw, Centre for Migration Research. Prof Louise Ryan from the University of Sheffield is the international partner on the project and will work closely with Dr Kloc-Nowak in the design of the study and analysis of data, as well as writing some co-authored articles.

The project aims to investigate the relations between contemporary Polish grandmothers and grandfathers and grandchildren, the ways in which these relations are maintained and the value they have for grandparents. As fertility decreases and human life expectancy increases, grandchildren are fewer (often less numerous than grandparents), but the relationship with them can last many years. Due to internal and international migration, grandchildren are born and often live far from their grandparents. Distance, national borders, differences in time and language become a challenge in maintaining family relations. Modern communication technologies (ICT) can be the answer. By analysing the complexity of relations with grandchildren, we want to go beyond the schematic perception of grandmothers and grandfathers only as donors of (usually free) childcare or as replacements for absent parents. The inspiration for undertaking the subject of intergenerational relations at a distance was the research of seniors and their migrant families within the MIG/AGEING project (Unfinished migration transition and population ageing in Poland. Asynchronous changes in the population and changes in formal and informal care institutions).

Professor Louise Ryan and Dr Weronika Kloc-Nowak in Warsaw in May 2019 at the kick off of the new Grandparenting project.

Dr Kloc-Nowak is one of the international partners in the Sustainable Care programme. This new project will have many synergies with the research undertaken by colleagues on Sustainable Care. For example, the emotional dimensions of  caring across distance will be a linking theme between Care ‘In’ and ‘Out of’ Place (co-lead by Majella Kilkey and Louise Ryan) and this new Grandparenting study. As Polish ageing migrants in the UK also form a focus of Care ‘In’ and ‘Out of’ Placethere are many opportunities to analysis across the two datasets to compare the experiences of older people ageing in Poland with Polish people ageing in the UK, especially in terms of their inter-generational caring relationships. The focus on technology, especially ICTs in long distance communications, is also another important linking theme across both projects.

As part of this collaboration, Dr Kloc-Nowak will come to Sheffield for a visit in February 2020 where she will present some preliminary findings from the first stage of the Grandparenting project. Prof Louise Ryan will attend a workshop in Warsaw in June 2020 where the results of the project will be presented. In addition, Dr Kloc-Nowak will be involved in the Sustainable Care conference in Sheffield March/April 2020.

Louise Ryan Care in and out of place

Professor Louise Ryan

Sustainable Care Co-Investigator

Professor Louise Ryan is a Co-Investigator for the Sustainable Care programme. Her Co-led work package is examining migrants’ experiences of care in and out of place, focusing on three groups: ageing migrants in the UK; British retirement migrants in Spain; and migrant care workers in the UK. To learn more, click the image below.

Care ‘In’ and ‘Out of’ Place

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