Looking in the Mirror

Spiritual Revelations for those seeking Humanity in Humans ~~CordieB.

African-American Grandmothers ~Written by CordieB

Cordieb and BabyCocoa

Cordieb and BabyCocoa

I’m reposting this due to an interesting blog posting I read today on RawDawgB’s blog, entititled, "When the grandmomma’s gone "   Now, if you’ve been blogging with me for some time, you will know that I judge people for themselves, not based on color, religion, sex, or anything else.  But this topic is based on stats – and I’d appreciate any feedback you might offer, no matter your race, creed, or nationality.  Please be frank and honest with your opinions; however any opinion that are based on racisim or hatred will be deleted as they were on the first posting.  Peace, Light and Love . . . . CordieB. 

Why is it that African-American women tend to take care of their extended families and non-families more so than our caucasion sisters.   I visited my Aunt (who is 70+)  last weekend, and was amused, as always, at her streangth and her many stories of days gone by.  While I was there, two of her great- grand children were preparing to eat.   Now, my aunt, who is 70+ has raised her children, some of her grand children; and now – God bless her soul, she is raising two of her great grands!  These children are still in elementary school!   She receives very little assistance, –other than finacial help from her son who lives with her.    Most of the physical and emotional tolls all fall on her.  This same woman took care of my grand mother when she became too old to care for herself.  She would not have ever thought of putting Granny in a nursing home.  She took care of me when my mother passed away  (And I thank her for it).  She has taken in so many people with hard luck situations, and hardly ever complains.  But what’s so amazing about her is that she is the norm among African-American woman 50 years of age and older.  Now, some may feel that this is a myth or a belief that is not based on fact.   I made this observation based upon people whom I’ve encountered (my family, my friends)– and true enough, there are studies that show this to be true –  see below: 

Goodman and Silverstein (2001) found that compared to grandmothers of other ethnic groups, African American grandmothers were more likely to have more life satisfaction and lower negative affect. However, further empirical research has pointed to other reasons that suggest the issue of grandparents as caregivers for their grandchildren is especially relevant for African Americans. In the United States, the largest percentages of children living in a grandparent headed household are African American (Pebley & Rudkin, 1999; Pinson-Millburn & Fabian, 1996; Fuller-Thompson & Minkler, 2000; Caputo, 2001). Studies have found that compared to White grandparents who are caregivers to their grandchildren, African American parenting grandparents are more likely to be unemployed, live below the poverty line, and have more grandchildren for whom they provide care (Sands & Goldberg-Glen, 2000). Similarly, others have found that living beneath the poverty line, being African American, and being single raises the probability of becoming a grandparent who is a caregiver to their grandchildren (Roe & Minkler, 1998). Fuller-Thompson

To read the entire study, see http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/tlmills/pub/Mills%20Publications/Mills,%20Gomez%20Smith%20&%20DeLeon_Grandparents.pdf

If you read the whole report you will see that among grandmothers raising grandchildren, African-American grandmothers make up for 69 percent of the total. 

Now back to the question.  Why?  I have more than a few answers of my own, but the best one that I can give is because we are expected to. 

Now expecting a 70 year to raise an elementary school aged child is nothing to brag about–in fact it is ludicrous.  I find  this type of expectation is what oftentimes leaves whole generations without proper guidance and discipline.   Where are the mothers? God only knows where the fathers are.  What are we teaching our children when we give them the expectation that we will always be there for them and for their’s-no doubt.  How many borderline unfit mothers would straighten up if we threatened to call social services and not do the work ourselves? 

Now I know that I might pee a lot of my beautiful people off by saying this; afterall – it’s not only that we are expected, we also have those spiritual virtues of love, caring, and being responsible for others who are less fortunate. 

However, love sometimes has to be learned the hard way.  Caring means, sometimes no matter how hard it might be, we step back and let our children or friends actually pass the grade and not do the work for them.   By doing the work for them, we are making  a contribution to a new generation of ignorance and complacency.

The Bible says, give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime. 

There is a difference between helping and "enabling."    Enabling is a term that I, until recently, only associated with addiction.  However, when we allow self sufficient adults to become totally dependent upon us, we are not helping them at the least.   In fact, we are enabling them to become addicted to a cycle of dependency.

We can’t stop this cycle overnight.  But we can stop it by gradually putting our foot down and not allowing people to make so many unhealthy and unloving demands on us. 

We have to again teach our children and our neigbors self-sufficency by providing tough love–that which will have lasting and significant assistance. 

Peace, Light and Love. . . CordieB

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16 Comments»

  persistentillusion wrote @

“Why is it that African-American women tend to take care of their extended families and non-families more so than our caucasion sisters. ”

I think that’s more an issue of necessity and opportunity. I know my grandmother (on my ‘white’ side) housed my father, brother, and me when I was growing up. However, at 53 years old, my father is STILL living with her. She was working until she was 73 years old to help take care of him.

I firmly believe that people who can’t take care of themselves, can’t take care of children.

In the lower-income black community, however, you have a history of women who are the main caregivers for their families. So when their children have children, it seems natural to in that instance, step in.

  CordieB wrote @

“In the lower-income black community, however, you have a history of women who are the main caregivers for their families. So when their children have children, it seems natural to in that instance, step in.”
This is very true. It is very natural. However, we need to put some of the responsibility back where it belongs, especially to the fathers, in order to stop this cycle.

  CordieB wrote @

“Either way, when it comes down to it, deep love and genuine (over)protective nature of parents for their children is always better than not caring at all.”

~Loba

http://lobaf.wordpress.com/category/caring-too-much/

  johnnypeepers wrote @

Hey Cordie,

I want to put in my two-cents about the question your presented. I totally agree that older African-Americans perform their duties of caring for family members more than any other racial group. I think there are a couple of reasons for this:

1. Due to slavery, African-Americans were forced to create tight-knit family bonds to protect their lives, culture, and history. When you have no rights or freedom, all you have is your family. Throughout the era of slavery and up till the Civil Rights movement, the bond of family (and religion) was of ultimate importance. Also, being denied opportunities and income-earning capabilities necessitated that family members care for their own to a greater degree. Whites did not have to do this to such a degree because they had greater economic opportunities and could transfer wealth inter-generationally.

2. You wrote:”There is a difference between helping and enabling.”

Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society” social programs geared towards African-Americans destroyed the nuclear Christian family by subverting the role of the man in the house. Welfare (i.e., WIC, government housing, Medicaid, etc) destroyed the incentive for a man to take responsibility for his offspring. The fundamental role of a man in this World is to provide for his family. When the State interferes with this fundamental human duty, perverse unforeseen consequences develop. One of these unforeseen consequences is the violent disruption of African-American families, the abandonment of religion, the coarsening of the culture with violent and misogynist music and imagery, and the immoral pursuit of lifestyle (money) over spiritually and family.

Over time, families began to fracture, leaving the grandparent (usually the grandmother) with the responsibility of raising her grand-children. These strong women (I have known many) and men who take on this duty are the last of a great generation. I fear that the by-product of government intervention into the African-American family over the last 40 years has created unfathomable damage to the fabric of the African-American spirit, undermined individual responsibility, dislodged religion as a crucial social institution, and will enslave future generations unless it is stopped.

  cordieb wrote @

Thanks Peepers for that perspective. I’ve often thought it. I’ve often said it. But what I have yet to say is that it might be a conspiracy. I certainly hope not. As always, keep it real, Peeps.

  johnnypeepers wrote @

“But what I have yet to say is that it might be a conspiracy.”

I highly suspect that to be true, yet I am also biding my time in discussing it until I am ready.

Thank you for the kind words on my blog – I need the kind of positive support that you so selflessly give. I will be back blogging in time and I look forward to your empowering comments.

God Bless,
johnnypeepers

  marlajayne wrote @

Cordie, Yesterday on the way home from work I stopped in this small rural post office, and there was an African American woman in line in front of me who was talking to the post office employee. Her conversation was TOTALLY about her grandchildren and the fact that she was raising them. The employee asked her how they were, and the grandmother indicated that she was having so many challenges that prayer was the only thing that seemed to work.

This morning I looked up the exact wording of what my human growth book (Feldman, 2006, 4th ed., page 575) had to say. Feldman feels that it’s because “the prevalence of three-generation families who live together is greater among African-Americans than Caucasians. In addition, African-American families, which are more likely than white families to be headed by single parents, often rely substantially on the help of grandparents in everyday child care, and cultural norms tend to be highly supportive of grandparents taking an active role.”

Anyway, I just thought you might find it interesting. The sentence that grabbed my attention was the last one because I got to thinking about my grandchildren and how my daughter wants me to babysit on occasion, but she doesn’t like it when I discipline her children or give her any unsolicited advice.

Thanks, I do find it intersting. I do have one question, above you stated, “Feldman feels that it’s because “the prevalence of three-generation families who live together is greater among African-Americans than Caucasians. ” What is because? You omitted that part. Were you talking about why AA grandmothers end up raising their grandchildren or more social issues. Please elaborate. Thanks for your input.

  marlajayne wrote @

The paragraph begins, “Furthermore, African-American grandparents are more apt tobe involved with their grandchildren than white grandparents. The most reasonable explanation for this is….”

Also, the paragraph above it commented on gender differences. “Generally, grandmothers are more interested and experience greater satisfaction than grandfathers, particularly when they have a high level of interaction with younger grandchildren.”

  SanityFound wrote @

Cordie you speak from my heart, I can’t believe I never saw this one earlier when you posted it originally.

Personally I feel it is a cultural thing that needs changing as you say. Though I do feel it is more a question of “I failed to bring my child up right there fore the onus is on me to clean up after them” etc…

When we fail we get those two choices… be the ostrich and ignore ignore ignore and take no responsibility whatsoever or do we go that extra mile and continually try to clean up even when its not our mess. Choice, whether its based on racial culture I do not know.

Great post huns *bows*

  paisley wrote @

i come from a very severed disjointed family that refuses to acknowledge let a lone support in any way what they deem to be “bad behavior”… and i can tell you,, that mindset replicates just as easily as does the one that says not only will i love you,, but i will do for you what you are unable to do for yourself…

i have always admired the sense of family that i saw the in the black community.. i have been jealous of that most of my life,, having nothing like that in the last three generations of my own family… i longed fro what i perceived as unconditional love,, family that loved you,, even when they did not love the things you were doing…

where as i do not feel it is necessary to aid ones family members in hurtful lifestyles,, i do believe that the children should not be left to suffer for the parents mistakes…

i do not know where the happy medium is,, and i feel that we are getting farther and farther away from that as a nation,, by living the “me” lifestyle that has become so much our focus…

  cordieb wrote @

@SanityFound. Thanks for your input. There are no easy answers.

@Paisley. So true. Thanks for your input – there are no easy answers. It’s really hard to give that which you’ve never had; especially when we are young and don’t even really know ourselves. I’m glad you’re feeling better! I’ve really missed your presense here and at your spot.

@all . . .“Either way, when it comes down to it, deep love and genuine (over) protective nature of parents for their children is always better than not caring at all.”

~Loba

  t.allen-mercado wrote @

Thanks for posting this. I was raised by my grandparents and while I attribute much of my success to them stepping in and picking up where my parents were slacking. It is this same stepping in and picking up that enabled my parents in the first place.

We are Gullah folk and even growing up in NYC, the culture, the ties the commitment to ‘kinfolk’ is an unbreakable bond. It just never occurred to me not to take care of anyone less capable or fortunate no matter the reason. I raised my younger siblings alongside my own children while my parents were still frolicking about aimlessly.

In my travels the only other cultures where I’ve witnessed this kind of reverence in the family structure have been amongst Jews, Asians and other Africans. I think oppression fosters a stronger committment and belief in unity.

In light.
T

  cordieb wrote @

@T. Thanks for visiting. In the end, it is the children that matters most; society in all people is gearing toward a me, me, me mentality – that is not the answer either. Helping those we can and mentoring when we can is the only solution I have at this moment – but we must teach our children to be dependable individuals so that the cycle won’t become worst. I applaud you for your committment to family. I suppose in the end God knows what’s best. Peace, Light and Love to you and yours. . . do visit again. CordieB.

  Omitunde wrote @

I am so happy to see this post and I will be writing about Grandmothers. It is so true that Black Grandmothers raise their grandchildren more often than in other ethnic.
There are instances when it is enabling and too often our sons and daughters do not apply what they have been taught to raising their children. Grandmothers such as myself will do whatever is necessary to ensure that their grandchildren will have an opportunity to thrive and grow. Yes, we do feel responsible and the we are expected to step up to keep our babies out of the court system or foster care.
Thank you for this post.

  cordieb wrote @

@ Omitunde. I’m glad you found this post informative and interesting. I’ve clicked on your link and see you have so much to offer on your web site. Keep up the excellent work; it is needed and appreciated! I’ll pass it on to those I know too. Thank You!

  cordieb wrote @

@ Omitunde. I’m glad you found this post informative and interesting. I’ve
clicked on your link and see you have a weath of information and
resources to offer on your web site. Keep up the excellent work; it is
needed and appreciated! I’ll pass it on to those I know too. Thank You!
Thank You! Thank You!


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