Grandmothering in Life-Course Perspective: A Study of Puerto Rican Grandmothers Raising Grandchildren in the United States

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In lieu of an abstract, here is the chapters first paragraph:

An individual’s life course is entrenched in and shaped by the times and places in which the person lives, including the geographical and cultural context (Elder, Johnson, and Crosnoe 2003). As immigrants, Latina grandmothers in the United States are set on a different path from their own cultures of origin, and they are loosely tied to the age norms of the host culture.¹ Moreover, the timing of grandmothering typically starts earlier and takes on different meanings from those of the Anglo majority. To analyze the decisions made by low-income Puerto Rican women to assume their “mother/grandmother” role on the mainland, and ultimately to make sense of the meaning of this role in the larger picture of their own lives, we must examine the intertwined relationships among timing (when the entry to the role occurs), historical time (late twentieth-century foster care policies), and place (mainland Unites States, low-income public housing, U.S. Latino culture). In this chapter, I examine how Puerto Rican grandmothers integrate the meanings of the mother/grandmother role into their life-course narratives, grounding my discussion in ethnographic vignettes from research among Puerto Rican grandmothers raising grandchildren in the Boston metro area. I pay particular attention to these grandmothers’ adherence to (or contestation of) age norms, cultural meanings of the mother/grandmother role, and its implications for how they construct and achieve “ego integrity” (Erikson 1959).


This chapter appears in a larger collection published by Berghahn Books (http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title.php?rowtag=LynchTransitions).

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