Transnational Grandparenthood: A Qualitative Study on the Relationship of Grandparents and Grandchildren in the Migration Context


  • Emily Schuler
  • Flavia de Maria Gomes Schuler
  • Cristina Maria de Souza Brito Dias


Transnational relationships are defined as those between actors located in different national spaces, that is, relationships that are built beyond borders. It is the case of grandparents and grandchildren, who through migration see themselves in a distance relationship between two countries, thus one can speak of a transnational relationship that seeks an affective connection between two countries, two cultures, played out between grandparents and grandchildren. These transnational relationships will link grandchildren to family traditions, stories and values in and from the culture of origin. Despite the migration by parents and children, apparently distancing generations, this distance does not seem to totally prevent the inter-family cultural transmission of social values, mainly due to grandparents, who function as a kind of cultural root in the family and in contemporary society. In this context, the general objective of this study was to understand the transnational relationship between grandparents who remained in the country of origin and their migrant grandchildren. A qualitative research was carried out with twelve participants, that is, four grandparents, who remained in Brazil; four mothers, who migrated to Switzerland with their children; and four grandchildren, from different Brazilian States who migrated to Switzerland. The instruments used were a biosociodemographic questionnaire, a life history interview and semi-structured interviews. Results point out that their transnational relationship presents itself in singular and special ways, through created opportunities by those involved.