Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Research)


Social and General Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Aine de Roiste

Second Advisor

Dr. Chris Mamo


Maternal employment has led to an increase in the need for childcare (Horgan, 2001). In 2005, the most valuable source of childcare for children of primary school age was unpaid relatives (Share & Kerrins, 2009). 33% of grandparents are involved in childcare on a weekly basis (Jones, 2011). Therefore, childrearing tasks are shared, and children may be exposed to a variety of childrearing values.

Given the key-role grandparents, and in particular grandmothers play in childcare, this research focuses on exploring the parenting values, beliefs and roles of maternal grandmothers and mothers of children under the age of ten and how differences in these may impact on the mother-daughter relationship. The perception of each other’s values, beliefs and roles were also explored. Finally, the pressures mothers encounter, and are perceived to encounter were explored. The sample consisted of 130 participants.

A number of key findings were identified through a mixed method approach, which consisted of a survey and focus groups. Mothers and grandmothers were found to differ in disciplinary approaches, and findings confirm that both mothers and grandmothers were aware of these differences. Mothers were found to take an active, authoritative role in discipline, while grandmothers took a more passive, permissive/indulgent role; with many highlighting they would not wish to interfere in what was not seen to be their role.

Significant differences were recorded in the activities mothers and grandmothers engaged in with children. Mothers were most likely to engage in activities such as reading, swimming, going to the library, homework, going to church services but to name a few.

There were significant differences in values, grandmothers placed greater value on religion, and mothers valued reasoned discipline and the child’s inclusion in decision making; this was also perceived correctly. Furthermore, mothers were most likely to place pride in appearance, and the pressure of achieving a ‘perfect mother’ image was considered and perceived to be great. The father and mother-in-law were also found to be influential on parenting approach.

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