Gay grandfathers: Intergenerational relationships and mental health

Samantha L. Tornello, Charlotte J. Patterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


This study explored the experiences of 79 gay grandfathers with their adult children and grandchildren. According to family systems theory, intergenerational relationships such as parent- grandparent dyads or parent- child- grandparent triads are important to understanding individual functioning within the family system. Consistent with findings of earlier research on heterosexual grandparents, gay grandfathers reported closer relationships with grandchildren who lived near them and with whom they had frequent contact. In addition, gay grandfathers who reported that they had disclosed their sexual orientation to grandchildren reported closer relationships with them. Consistent with findings for heterosexual grandparents, greater perceived social support was associated with better mental health among gay grandfathers. In addition, reactions of adult children to grandfathers' disclosure of sexual orientation were also associated with grandfathers' mental health; positive responses were associated with better mental health. Thus, over and above factors known to affect intergenerational relationships and mental health among older people, we found that some variables specific to gay grandfathers were also important predictors of their relationship quality with their grandchildren and of their mental health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-551
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 24 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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