Grandparenting in Chinese skipped-generation families: cultural specificity of meanings and coping

Suet Lin Hung*, Kwok Kin Fung, Ava Lau

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The main aim of this study is to fill a gap in the research on Chinese grandparents who raise their grandchildren in Hong Kong, which has implications for social policy and social welfare services. Grandparenting is embedded in Chinese culture, which emphasizes blood ties and intergenerational relationships and support. However, the meanings ascribed by grandparents who serve as surrogate/substitute parents have been found to be very different to those of grandparents in general, and of grandparents who play a less central role in caregiving. The cultural specificity of the meanings and experiences of grandparenting are examined based on the findings of an exploratory study. Analysis of the findings reveals six main themes: (1) explaining “why” in terms of “abnormality,” (2) a strong sense of shame and misfortune, (3) grandparenting as an expression and an extension of parental responsibility, (4) a lack of social legitimacy, (5) burden and distress, and (6) coping by mobilizing cultural and community resources. Although some of these themes are shared with other cultures and societies, others are found to be culturally specific to Hong Kong. In particular, the Chinese cultural context, in which parenting is culturally constructed as a lifelong responsibility, explains the strong commitment of grandparents to skipped-generation families. However, the difficulties and challenges faced by this group of caregivers should not be overlooked. Increased social support would certainly benefit this group of grandparents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-214
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Family Studies
Issue number2
Early online date27 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

User-Defined Keywords

  • caring for young children
  • cultural perspectives
  • grandparenting
  • Kinship care
  • parenting/parenthood
  • skipped-generation families


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