University of Mons (BELGIUM)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2019 Proceedings
Publication year: 2019
Pages: 8386-8392
ISBN: 978-84-09-08619-1
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2019.2086
Conference name: 13th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 11-13 March, 2019
Location: Valencia, Spain
When parents live a major family crisis, they can no longer be correctly available for their children's education and school monitoring. Indeed, in some dramatic situations such as those caused by domestic violence, the parents' behavior sometimes compromises the safety and development of their children. In this case, the grandparents may be called upon to take over, either voluntarily or forced by a court decision (Ferland, 2013). According to Le Borgne-Uguen (2003), the grandparents will then set up a real work of support and education to fulfill the deficits caused by parents who are no longer able to fully perform their educative role. In these unpredictable situations, it is sometimes difficult for them to find their own place in the educational process while respecting the parents and without any control over the duration of their educative mission (Péricone 2013).

In our research, we met six grandparents, three men and three women, who had to provide care, education and school monitoring for their grandchildren because of a family crisis caused by domestic violence. The children were between 6 and 11 years old and attended primary school. Five tools were used to collect the data: an anamnestic questionnaire, a genogram, a semi-directive interview, a family drawing and a life satisfaction scale.

Our results show that grandparents were obliged to adjust their professional schedule in order to be available to intervene more intensively in their grandchildren's education and especially their schooling. The drawing of the family underlines that these grandchildren occupy a very particular place in their family’s representation. Our subjects also emphasize how difficult it is to supply the deficient parental authority while setting a reassuring and soothing emotional environment to these children affected by life trauma. As shown by the results on the life satisfaction scale show, they still feel a lot of satisfaction to be useful despite the fatigue and the sadness caused by the situation. They also emphasize their contribution to the transmission of traditions, values and basic skills. Finally, it is interesting to note that none of our subjects received the help from an experienced professional educator to accompany them in this difficult experience. This choice is probably related to the taboos, or shame, engendered by the domestic violence situation in which their own children are involved. Yet all recognize that this external help would have been beneficial to enable them to better live this educational role to which they were not really prepared.
Severe family crises, education, grandparents, school monitoring.