Roles of grandparents and how they could


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Looking at the role of Grandparents
A talk given at the University of WI in Madison.

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Roles of grandparents and how they could

  1. 1. “ ROLES OF GRANDPARENTS AND HOW THEY CAN AFFECT THE FUTURE” The Census claims 56,000,000 Grandparents In the USA
  2. 2. Activate this new generation. <ul><li>The challenge of education, nature centers, RELC’s and social organizations is to figure out how to motivate the grandparent generation. </li></ul><ul><li>Think of 56,000,000 and realize that the baby boomers are just coming into this realm. </li></ul><ul><li>Understand that our changing society now provides children with multiple grandparents through divorces and remarriages. </li></ul>
  3. 3. What is a grandparent? <ul><li>The biological qualifications are simple – someone who has a child who has a child. </li></ul><ul><li>In the Lakota world it is also all the brothers and sisters of the parent’s parents. </li></ul><ul><li>In some cultures it is a translation of their name for god and wisdom. </li></ul><ul><li>In some cultures it is a title of respect for a wise elder. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Today we have a first Grandma in the White House As the country's new &quot;First Grandmother,&quot; Marian Robinson will become one of at least 5.7 million American grandparents who live in the same home with their grandchildren, according to the U.S. Census
  5. 5. Many are primary care givers <ul><li>Grandparents in the US can be more than supplemental caregivers. The census results show 5.8 million grandparents serving in the role of parent, being the primary caregivers. </li></ul><ul><li>But most of us are in our grandchildren’s lives simply because we are enthralled and enjoy spending time with them. We are there to support them and move with them in to a vision of the future – a future we must think about as we move forward and fulfill all our grandparenting roles. </li></ul>
  6. 6. The person they want with them on a deserted island
  7. 7. Companions
  8. 8. Wisdom givers
  9. 9. Playmates
  10. 10. Guides
  11. 11. Explorers
  12. 12. Adventurers
  13. 13. Naturalists
  14. 14. Teachers
  15. 15. Encouragers
  16. 16. And occasionally rule breakers <ul><li>Not unlike other mothers and daughters across the country, however, Marian Robinson and Michelle Obama sometimes have different ideas about the best way to raise kids. In a rare interview last spring with The Boston Globe , Robinson said that she enforced an 8:30 bedtime and provided the girls with organic food — as her daughter demanded — when she sat for them in their own home. But when the girls had sleepovers in Robinson's home, she admitted, &quot;I have candy, they stay up late ... they watch TV as long as they want to, we'll play games until the wee hours. I do everything that grandmothers do that they're not supposed to.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  17. 17. The rule breaker
  18. 18. Historical Role of Grandparents The Favorite , by Georgios Iakovidis (1890) Past generations of families lived in the same home and that home passed from generation to generation. The generations did not move from their ancestral home site. Grandparents lived much shorter lives. The family was a business with the children of working age in the field and the grandparents watching babies in the home.
  19. 19. Connections to past generations <ul><li>We begin our sense of history with our birth. </li></ul><ul><li>A perspective on the past that allows us to view the present in context and the future with concern comes through those we meet who have tread in the time before our birth. Grandparents are the connection to the past: grandchildren connect us to the future. </li></ul><ul><li>The elder as a story teller is consistent around the world until television began the sequence of electronic replacements. </li></ul>
  20. 20. The past is only names and photos until we give them life.
  21. 21. Confucius <ul><li>In Confucian ideals, filial piety ( Chinese : 孝 ; pinyin : xiào) is one of the virtues to be held above all else: a respect for the parents and ancestors. </li></ul><ul><li>Filial piety is considered the first virtue in Chinese culture , and it is the main concern in a large number of stories. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Those who give unconditional love. In many cultures multiple generations share one home. Immigration changed the dynamics even if it still meant generations sharing the same home or apartment.
  23. 23. Be careful of stereotyping <ul><li>While Asian families (one example) may have multiple generations living together we have to sort out whether this is by choice or: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Economics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Language limitations of older generations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discrimination and limited housing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The immigrant grandparent loses position when their language, dress, and customs do not allow them to succeed in a new culture. </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Comparative studies <ul><li>Latin countries such as Italy, Spain, and those in South America are known to have the idea of familism. Family relationships are very important and the grandparent-grandchild relationship is no exception. Hispanic-American children, for example, are more likely to live with their grandparents than their white counterparts, if less than African Americans (Strom, Buki, and Strom 1997). </li></ul><ul><li>Three-generational households have been more common among African Americans and Hispanic Americans and in East Asian countries, due to economic circumstances, the notion of familism, and filial responsibility, respectively. Thus, the grandparent-grandchild relationships tend to be stronger among these people than Euro-Americans. </li></ul>
  25. 25. “ We say that a family without a grandmother has no foundation because it has no guardian of traditional values.” Senegal In my village elders always occupy the foremost position. They are consulted regarding the most important affairs.” Sabaly, 68, provides daily childcare for four grandchildren, assists her farmer husband, advises seven children and their spouses, and works in the garden and fields
  26. 26. The Grandmother project <ul><li>Throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America, grandmothers provide primary childcare, do domestic and farm work, act as family advisors, and pass on cultural traditions. In areas without access to schools or health care, in countries where parents have fallen ill due to AIDS or other diseases, grandmothers frequently become the main parent and teacher. Kristina Gryboski , International Consultant, The Grandmother Project; Michael Gubser , Assistant Professor of History, James Madison University </li></ul>
  27. 27. Is there an Age bias? <ul><li>Despite grandmothers’ importance, Western organizations that work in developing countries have been slow to incorporate elders into their activities, fearing that grandmothers will be unwilling to accept new ideas. </li></ul><ul><li>The Grandmother Project, a US nonprofit, is working to redress this oversight. </li></ul><ul><li>The Grandmother Project’s approach succeeds at introducing new practices by working with existing social structures and leaders. Using stories and songs, the Grandmother Project celebrates the traditional advisory role of grandmothers </li></ul>Uzbekistan
  28. 28. American Indians <ul><li>Since the term American Indian refers to many nations of indigenous people it is hard to generalize about grandparents. </li></ul><ul><li>In the Lakota nation all of the siblings of one generation become grandparents to a child, regardless of which of them gave birth to the parent. </li></ul><ul><li>This creates a village of elders and wisdom givers. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Burden on the American Indian <ul><li>The grandparents historical connection is complicated by the historical biases in films and written text as well as the fact that their language and religion was against the law until 1978 when Jimmy Carter granted them the basic rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion that is in the constitution. </li></ul>
  30. 30. Carrying the burden of the past <ul><li>Participants reported enculturative responsibilities for their grandchildren in regard to traditional tribal values and knowledges such as tribal spirituality and protocol, cooperative interaction, tribal language and appreciation of nature. Methods of enculturation took the form of stories, modeling, direct teaching and playful interaction. Robbins R , Scherman A , Holeman H , Wilson J . Roles of American Indian grandparents in times of cultural crisis . Journal of cultural diversity. 2005;12(2):62-8. </li></ul>Grandparents by Jim Abeita
  31. 31. Time spent together bonds the generations <ul><li>In Japan, for example, Robert Strom and his colleagues (1995) found that grandparents who spend more than five hours per month with grandchildren and/or who take care of grandchildren daily tend to have a better relationship than others. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Rewards of working with the grandmother <ul><li>“ In order for a development activity to work in the village, elders have to be included,” says village leader Tidian Cisse. “We are thrilled that grandmothers are involved in nutrition activities because their role is to transmit knowledge to the younger generation.” </li></ul><ul><li>Other grandmothers agree. “We have become important in our village. With this approach, the young people come to us. You can’t imagine how much pleasure this gives us.” </li></ul><ul><li>From Senagal – Grandmothers Project </li></ul>
  33. 33. Grandparents are Futurists <ul><li>Elizabeth Timberlake and Sandra Chipungu (1992) show that among African-American grandmothers, those living with their grandchildren tend to value &quot;more highly the grandchild who enabled them to continue to feel useful” </li></ul><ul><li>This finding adds that this has developed over time since slavery originally robbed them their African past. </li></ul><ul><li>At the same time it is true of all grandparents that the grandchild awakens a sense of the future for them. </li></ul>
  34. 34. Who are today’s grandparents and what makes them futurist? <ul><li>The new generation of grandparents were the activists of the sixties, the people of causes. </li></ul><ul><li>They were the generation of Earth Day and the founding of environmentalism. </li></ul><ul><li>While many moved from their ideals, these past experiences are awakened through their grandchildren. </li></ul><ul><li>The grandchildren are a reminder that the future counts and that they still have a say in what that future will be. </li></ul>
  35. 35. Immortality: Grandchildren
  36. 36. Richard Louv’s call for action <ul><li>To the Earth Day generation, Richard Louv seems to be stating the obvious, but in fact the obvious is what is now needed. </li></ul><ul><li>“ As one scientist puts it, we can now assume that just as children need good nutrition and adequate sleep, they may very well need contact with nature.    Reducing that deficit – healing the broken bond between our young and nature – is in our self-interest, not only because aesthetics or justice demands it, but also because our mental, physical, and spiritual health depends upon it.   The health of the earth is at stake as well.  How the young respond to nature, and how they raise their own children, will shape the configurations and conditions of our cities, homes – our daily lives.” – Richard Louv  </li></ul>
  37. 37. … many studies credit exposure to plants or nature with speeding up recovery time from injury.  Roger Ulrich, a Texas A & M researcher, has shown that people who watch images of natural landscape after stressful experience calm markedly in only five minutes; their muscle tension, pulse, and skin-conductance readings plummet. Louv
  38. 38. The Human Relationship with Nature by Peter Kahn points to the findings of over one hundred studies that confirm that one of the main benefits of spending time in nature is stress reduction.
  39. 39. We learn through doing – much of which we do with our hands; we manipulate things, feel things and though we use our hands to type on a keyboard, we are not experiencing the world fully.  Frank Wilson, professor of neurology at Stanford Univ.  School of Medicine -  says, “We’re cutting off our hands to spite our brain.”  Louv
  40. 40. For a whole generation of kids, direct experiences in the backyard, in the tool shed, in the fields, and woods, has been replaced by indirect learning, through machines. 
  41. 41. Natural spaces and materials stimulate children’s limitless imaginations and serve as the medium of inventiveness and creativity observable in almost any group of children playing in a natural setting,.” Robin Moore
  42. 42. In 1977 Edith Cobb published the book The Ecology of Imagination in Childhood . She concluded that inventiveness and imagination of nearly all o the creative people she studied was rooted in their early experiences in nature.  
  43. 43. It is the challenge of society, of the family and of the nature center and school to connect a child with nature.
  44. 47. Grandchildren: Grandparents <ul><li>They are all around you. </li></ul><ul><li>They are looking for opportunities. </li></ul><ul><li>They do not even have to be related. </li></ul><ul><li>It is the best of relationships, it is the audience that can make a difference. </li></ul><ul><li>Can you provide the opportunity for them to connect with nature and make a better future? </li></ul>