Post-print of: Backhouse, J & Graham, A 2012, 'Grandparents raising grandchildren: negotiating the complexities of role-identity conflict', Child and Family Social Work, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 306-315.
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The purpose of this qualitative study was to better understand the experience of grandparents who are raising their grandchildren in NSW, Australia. In-depth interviews were conducted with 34 grandparents and their narratives transcribed and studied using paradigmatic analysis (Polkinghorne 1995) to reveal common themes among the stories told. Identity theory further informed the discussion of these findings. Woven throughout the grandparent narratives is a story of paradox – of experience simultaneously made up of pain/pleasure, myth/reality, inclusion/exclusion, being deserving/undeserving, visible/invisible and voiced/silenced. The findings signal a significant role-identity conflict for grandparents who are parenting grandchildren. This study points to the need for policy and practice that more closely reflects the complexity of experience associated with the grandparent-as-parent role.