Some grandparents have less contact than they would like, due to separation or divorce of parents.
In developed countries like Australia, grandparents live longer, are generally better educated and healthier than previous generations.
Grandparents, mostly grandmothers, are the major providers of child care for preschool children, particularly for babies and toddlers, when both their parents are in the workforce.
Grandparents also help parents with school-age children by picking them up from school, and by caring for them during school vacations.
At times, grandparents achieve satisfaction with their role through selective investment in a particular grandchild or one particular family of grandchildren (Cherlin & Furstenberg, 1985).
Where grandparents have too much responsibility for grandchildren the role loses its 'magical elements' (Kornhaber, 1996).
Contact between grandparents and grandchildren is not entirely a matter of choice but depends on such things as physical proximity, the ongoing relationship that they have with the parents of the grandchildren and other demands on their time from other families of grandchildren (Cherlin & Furstenberg, 1985; Kornhaber, 1996; Troll, 1985).
Where the relationship between parents and grandparents is difficult or tenuous, it may not be easy for grandparents to have an ongoing close and loving relationship with the grandchildren (de Vaus, 1994).
A major Australian study has found that most preschool grandchildren have contact with their grandparents.
Very few children (2.9 per cent of infants and 2.6 per cent of four to five year olds) have no face-to-face contact with at least one grandparent (Gray, Misson & Hayes, 2005).