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