Amazing Grace: African American Grandmothers as Caregivers and Conveyers of Traditional Values

Amazing Grace: African American Grandmothers as Caregivers and Conveyers of Traditional Values

Amazing Grace: African American Grandmothers as Caregivers and Conveyers of Traditional Values

Amazing Grace: African American Grandmothers as Caregivers and Conveyers of Traditional Values

Synopsis

Intergenerational African families, in which the grandmother is the primary caregiver of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, are increasingly rapidly in American society. Over the past decade, researchers and policy makers have shown considerable concern over the increases in grandparent maintained households. This concern has stimulated a proliferation of research on grandparent caregiving on a wide range of issues. Among these are the impact of multiple roles on health, reasons for the rapid increase, problems and needs, social structure and extended family relationships, social support, role satisfaction, the impact of the AIDS and crack-cocaine epidemics, and emotional/physical well-being.

Excerpt

Growing out of the awareness that diversity best characterizes middle-aged and older adults, our attention to those dimensions that define custodial grandparents has deepened our understanding of the challenges and rewards of raising a grandchild. Grandparents raising grandchildren can be differentiated along a number of parameters: age, gender, urban-rural place of residence, marital status, and race/ethnicity. The most salient of these parameters is that of race/ethnicity, and in this light, much has been written with regard to the caregiving experience of African Americans, most of whom are women. Over the last decade, the work of Meredith Minkler and that of Linda Burton has provided the most insight into such grandparents' lives. Amazing Grace: African American Grandmothers as Caregivers and Conveyers of Traditional Custodial Values emerges as another milestone in this respect, building on the above with in-depth projects focusing on African American grandmothers raising their grandchildren.

Among its unique features, Amazing Grace puts custodial grandparenting into historical context, and presents quantitative findings regarding both physical and mental health and factors influencing custodial grandmothers' life satisfaction and depression. Most importantly, however, Amazing Grace presents qualitative data, based upon uniquely constructed interview findings, organized along multiple themes: grandmothers' feelings about caregiving, family relationships, the unique problems and contexts of caregiving, coping strategies, the support they receive from others, their values, and perceptions of their role in the family as the hub around which the family revolves.

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