What is it about?

Being a grandparent is known to be a meaningful and enjoyable role in life. But what about people whose adult children have not (yet) had offspring? Does longing for grandchildren compromise their well-being? In our research, we apply the concept of life longing to grandparenthood. Life longing (Sehnsucht) is used to describe the intense desire for a different, optimal life. It refers to things in life that one can hope for but not act upon - like having grandchildren. Previous research has found longings to negatively relate to well-being. In line with this, we found strong expressions of longing for grandparenthood to be associated with lower life satisfaction. However, this association was offset by the partner's understanding of the longing for grandparenthood.

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Why is it important?

Wishing for but not (yet) having grandchildren is a developmental challenge that should not be overlooked. Our study contributes to aging research by being the first applying the concept of Sehnsucht to grandparenthood. Longing for grandparenthood focuses on a (yet) incomplete aspect of life, which compromises well-being. Here, the family is a source for bittersweet feelings of Sehnsucht. However, it is also a resource that helps to attenuate its negative association with life satisfaction: It seems to be helpful if the partner is there to understand one's sadness about a so-far unfulfilled longing and is ready to comfort.

Perspectives

"Uncovering the complex multigenerational interplay of developmental trajectories is a fascinating research field. We are pleased to contribute to it with our study on longing for grandparenthood."

Jasmin Dorry

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This page is a summary of: Longing for grandparenthood: Its association with life satisfaction in late middle adulthood., Psychology and Aging, February 2023, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/pag0000723.
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