Model of Extended Family Support
Care of the Elderly in African American Families
Peggye Dilworth-Anderson and Paula Y.Goodwin
Sociohistorical evidence (Berlin, 1998; Franklin, 1997; Gutman, 1976) shows that strong cultural values in African American families, which include filial piety, family reciprocity, a sense of duty, and group survival, provide the background for intergenerational family support in African American families. Traditionally, family functioning among African Americans has been primarily based on an extended family model with distinct characteristics: existence of fluid and flexible boundaries, inclusion of blood and non-blood kin, and the norm of reciprocity (giving back) (Franklin, 1997). Thus, grandparents care for young grandchildren in their homes (Burton, 1992), older grandchildren care for and share their homes with grandparents, and middle-aged children care for the numerous generations within their households (Dilworth-Anderson, Williams, & Cooper, 1999a). Elderly parents are cared for and supported in part because family members feel obligated to give back to the older generation that cared for them.
Previous research has documented the presence of a large informal support system in African American families (Barer & Johnson, 1990; Wood & Parham, 1990), which increases the availability of a caring network to the elderly population. Aschenbrenner (1975) and Taylor and Chatters (1991) proposed that extended caregiving networks in African American families consist of a large and diverse pool of support providers who mutually assist each other. Some recent findings show, however, that the strength and size of the network in African American families