Cover image for Amazing grace : African American grandmothers as caregivers and conveyers of traditional values
Amazing grace : African American grandmothers as caregivers and conveyers of traditional values
Smith-Ruiz, Dorothy.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, [2004]

Physical Description:
xvi, 134 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Introduction -- Slavery, family, and religion : the traditional roles of older African American women in the antebellum south during the nineteenth cerntury -- Related research : grandparent caregiving -- Methodolgy : the custodial African American grandmother study -- Social and demographic characteristics -- Factors influencing life satisfaction among -- Social facrors, health status, and depression -- Voices of custodial grandmothers : dominant themes.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ759.9 .R85 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order

Central Library1Received on 11/30/04



Intergenerational African families in which the grandmother is the primary caregiver of grandchildren and great-grandchildren are increasing 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.

In spite of social, economic, and health demands faced by African American grandmothers, many of them accept parental responsibility of children who might otherwise become wards of the state. This book is organized to give a broad perspective on social characteristics, health issues, and experiences of African American grandmothers who act in the role of custodial parents to their grandchildren. Ruiz highlights the increase in grandparent caregivers over the past three decades, provides an overview of historical roles of the grandmother in African American families, and shows how the extended family has acted as a social-emotional and financial support in times of need.

Author Notes

DOROTHY SMITH RUIZ is Associate Professor of African American and African Studies and Sociology at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. She is also the author of Mental Health and Mental Disorder among Black Americans (Greenwood Press, 1990).

Reviews 1

Choice Review

After presenting a review of the history and family structural significance of grandmothers as caregivers of African American grandchildren, Ruiz (Univ. of North Carolina, Charlotte) sums up her findings from a convenience sample survey of 99 grandmother caregivers in five North Carolina counties. Respondents participated in structured interviews and then offered qualitative responses. Consistent with the findings of earlier studies, Ruiz found that grandparent caregivers usually assume the task of parenting with diminished economic resources and are often burdened by their own serious health problems. Yet despite their limitations, they usually are able to offer their grandchildren more support than would be possible from neglectful, incarcerated, or drug-involved parents. Despite modestly adding to the literature on grandparents as caregivers in the African American community, this report is unfortunately poorly edited, and a great deal of repetition appears throughout. Although a convenience sample limits generalizations from a study such as this one, more fruitful hypotheses could have been presented about the potential strength and weaknesses within this grandmother-caring social world. ^BSumming Up: Optional. Upper-division undergraduates and above. W. Feigelman Nassau Community College

Table of Contents

Forewordp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. xiii
1 Slavery, Family, and Religion: The Traditional Roles of Older African American Women in the Antebellum South during the Nineteenth Centuryp. 1
2 Related Research: Grandparent Caregivingp. 15
3 Methodology: The Custodial African American Grandmother Studyp. 23
4 Social and Demographic Characteristicsp. 27
5 Factors Influencing Life Satisfaction among African American Grandmothers Raising Grandchildrenp. 37
6 Social Factors, Health Status, and Depressionp. 45
7 Voices of Custodial Grandmothers: Dominant Themesp. 53
Conclusion: Summary and Implicationsp. 115
Referencesp. 121
Indexp. 127