Extended family life occupies an important place in Latin families these days. Miami, Florida is no exception. Although couples are expected to set up their own households, they often remain in close contact with the members of their larger extended families. Grandmothers play a vital role in a Latin family life. They can often serve as a peace keeper and the wise one; they also may give comfort and love to their family members, as well as spoil their grandkids. Grandmothers in Latin families, generally, also teach children and grand children how to cook, often for many. Weekends and holidays are the most common times spent with grand mothers and extended family members in order to just, be together and enjoy time spent together. Grandmothers usually take care of their mothers or grandmothers when they are of age and expect their kids and grandkids to take care of them when they get older. Latin grandmothers usually live with their kids or grandkids as they get older, along with other extended family members. In Latin families, a more traditional role is usually followed, often carried down from grandparents. For example, one may expect to follow religious roles, follow proper morals and chastity, and learn how to cook and clean (especially for younger siblings or grandparents). Latin grandmothers in Miami are of many different cultures and nationalities, such as Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican Republican, etc. They are not limited to these cultures of course. A melting pot of different cultures and races may be present; however, all of these women have something in common; they are all Latin; Latin grandmothers.
On the other hand, grandmothers in the Americanized culture in Miami are different in their roles within their families in this day in age. American family culture is more distant, independent, self-sufficient; however, caring and loving. American grandmothers these days will spend a shorter amount of time with their grandkids, will cook for their immediate family, and go out to restaurants on occasion with family members. Traditionally, grandmothers in American families are usually taken care of in nursing homes when they get older and are normally not taken care of in the home of their children or grandchildren. There are some exceptions to this; however, this is not true for all American grandmothers. In Miami there are a large number of American grandmothers.
Interviews and observational studies were conducted with eight different grandmothers either by phone or in person. Four of these interviews were with Latin grandmothers and four were with American grandmothers. They were conducted with family acquaintances, family friends and acquaintances. Basically, the structure of my interviews with these ladies was laid back and very comfortable. I wanted to make the grandmothers feel as if they were open to talk about their lives in regards to being a grandmother without feeling emotionally violated in any way. I started out by expressing the importance of confidentiality and that I was using this only for academic purposes. I told them that I would use different names and not their own. Once, I expressed this to the grandmothers, they seemed to be at ease in expressing their role as grandmothers and in sharing more information about their lives.
Martha, is a 68-year-old Latin grandmother living in Miami, Florida. She has three children and six grandchildren. She is often thought of as the peace maker in her family, as a few of her children often fight over menial things. She currently lives with one of her daughters, Maria, who takes care of her since was diagnosed with having breast cancer. She has gone through a rough time; however, she expresses how she feels blessed because she was able to have three beautiful children and six wonderful grandchildren. She usually cooks for the family, more before she got sick. She said she spends a lot of time with family and feels it is very important to do so. She says she is respected greatly by her family members and they often come to her for advice on different issues. She expresses that she is glad to help them in any way she can.
Esmeralda, is a 73-year-old Latin grandmother who used to live in Miami for many years; however, recently moved to California to live with one of her sons who is in the military and has just retired. She expressed how she used to live in Miami and loved the atmosphere and environment there. She said she loved going to the beach with her family and playing in the sand with some of her grandchildren. She used to live with one of her daughters, Mariana; however, financially, it became difficult for her Mariana to sustain her two daughters and her grandmother. Because of this Mark, a more wealthy retired military man, her son, took his grandmother in. She expressed how he has been so good to her and how she also misses her daughter in Miami. She said she is very close to her family often cooks and cleans for them; wherever she stays. She also takes care of the children, as much as she is able. Her husband died five years ago of lung cancer. She missed him greatly.
Carmen, a 50-year-old young grandmother currently lives in Miami. She has one child, a son and one grandchild. She is married and live together with her husband. They often visit and are very close to their son and grandbaby. She often goes to their house to cook and baby sits for them. She expresses how her child and grandchild are her life. She says that she would not have it any other way. She says that she is very healthy and exercise four to five times a week. She says that she wants to remain healthy for herself and her family.
Tomasita, a 93-year-old Latin grandmother, living in Miami, appeared to be very fragile; however, was very willing to speak with me in regards to her being a grandmother. She said that she has 14 children. She expressed how two of them died at childbirth and how she felt overjoyed and blessed that she had all of her children; however, felt somewhat empty inside for those that she lost. She said that she is taken care of by her eldest daughter and that her daughter lives in her, Tomasita's home. She said that the grandchildren that she has are many and that she has enjoyed and still enjoys caring for them and loving them. She says that her and her family get together very often for family gatherings. She says that plays a role in the family as the respected elder. Her family shows much respect for her, as she does for them. She has had a few minor problems physically; however, other than that she is very healthy and plans to live an even longer life to share with her extended family.
Jenine, a 57-year-old American grandmother, lived I Miami for 40 years and recently moved away to Utah to be near her daughter who has two children. Jenine has had two children and five grandchildren. She said that her husband passed away one year ago. She feels that she is still having a hard time with this loss. Her daughter asked her to move near her, so that she may be near family, Jenine agreed. She moved to Utah a few months ago. She said that it's a very new place and she is still getting used to it. She said she is happy to be closer to some family. Jenine has not spent much time with her daughter and her two grandkids as she lived far from them for quite sometime. She says that she plays the role of a care giver for her grandchildren; however, she plays a needy role as well. She said she feels she needs a lot of support right now and the tables seem to be turned where she's the one that needs the support. Once she's more up on her feet, she plans to visit her family more often.
Eunice, is a 78-year-old American grandmother living in a nursing home in Miami. She is a woman who recently had health complications due to a stroke and is currently in recovery. She says that she has been at the nursing home beginning recently and is still getting used to the people and the environment. She said she was used to being more independent and now has problems with the realization that others are taking care of her. She has one child, a male, Jake. Jake has one child; however, Jake hardly ever visits her, neither when she was at home or in the nursing home. She said she feels a loss because she has not been able to see her grandchild as much as she wanted to. She does not know why her son is doing this and feels emotional pain every day, due to this conflict.