Download The New American Grandparent: A Place in the Family, A Life by Andrew J. Cherlin PDF

By Andrew J. Cherlin

Major sociologists of the relatives learn the altering function of yankee grandparents--how they attempt for either independence and relatives ties.

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Dorian Apple Sweetzer showed that "friendly equality" between grandparents and grandchildren is much more common in societies in which grandparents lack authority over their grown children. 30 Ours is also such a society. Nevertheless, we do not wish to argue that the changing material conditions of grandparents in this century-demographic, technological, and economic-were the "cause" of the change in how they relate to their grandchildren in any simple sense. An increasing emphasis on sentiment in all family relations had been under way in the United States for some time.

38 Fischer linked the shift in the status of the elderly to a shift in sentiment. Prior to the American Revolution: Even as most (though not all) elderly people were apt to hold more power than they would possess in a later period, they were also apt to receive less affection, less love, less sympathy from those younger than themselves. The elderly were kept at an emotional distance by the young. If open hostility between the generations was not allowed, affection was not encouraged either. 39 Conversely: In modern America, as the social and economic condition of the aged worsened, their psychic condition may have grown a little better, in one way at least.

Whereas before you couldn't even speak out. Grandma may have helped out, and she certainly was respected, even loved; but she often was an emotionally distant figure. Gunhild Hagestad analyzed all mentions of grandparents in two volumes of Good Housekeeping from the 1880s. Most of the items were poems, often describing an old grandmother who might be sitting quietly by the fire. Describing the subjects of 36 The Modernization of Grandparenthood such odes as "Grandma-God Bless Her" (1887), Hagestad writes: "Seldom, if ever, was the 1880s grandmother described as dealing with the nitty-gritty aspects of everyday family life.

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