The purpose of this study is to construct a substantive theory that explains why grandmothers and employed mothers choose grandmaternal child care in South Korea. The data are gathered from 42 in-depth, individual interviews with 21 pairs of employed mothers, who have at least one child younger than elementary-school age, and their mothers or mothers-in-law, who have provided child care on a daily basis for their grandchildren.
The grounded theory analysis identifies five main concepts: (a) love and (b) responsibility as the grandmothers' motivations for providing child care for their grandchildren; (c) expectations, (d) reliance, and (e) trust as the mothers' motivations for utilizing grandmaternal child care. The grandmothers decide to provide child care based on altruistic love for their adult children and a sense of responsibility for parental support, especially when they perceive that their financial support for their adult children is insufficient. The mothers expect to rely on the grandmothers for child care, both inevitably and expediently. Their trust of kin care and distrust of non-kin care show their dichotomous perspective of kin versus non-kin.
The core category, bilateral familism supporting gender roles, is developed as the final integrative step of grounded theory methods. The core category suggests that the interests of both paternal and maternal grandmothers are subordinated to those of their adult children and the children's families in a way that sustains gender roles in their extended families.
This study also discusses questions and dilemmas that grandmothers and mothers raise and encounter when they decide to choose grandmaternal child care. The grandmothers' children-oriented motivations of love and responsibility conflict with their individual desires. The mothers constantly ask whether they should leave the labor force to become stay-at-home mothers or not, and whether they should have another child or not. Their reliance on grandmaternal child care has an important impact on their answers to these questions. The policy suggestions of this study include (a) making child care leaves and reduced working hours as possible options, (b) improving the quality of day care, and (c) promoting trust in the day care system based on its enhanced quality.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2009. Major: Family Social Science. Advisor: Jean W. Bauer, PH.D., 1 computer file (PDF); x, 179 pages, appendices A-D.
Motivations for providing and utilizing grandmaternal child care for employed mothers in South Korea..
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