An exploration of the psychosocial experiences of coloured grandmothers in Groenheuwel who are the primary care givers of their grandchildren
Grobler, Hermanus Bosman
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In various South African communities older people play a key role in looking after their children, grandchildren and unrelated children. For the purpose of this study, 50 years was considered the start of old age as motivated by the World Health Organization. However, most women who partook in the study were older than 60. The western family structure in communities has been transformed due to major social changes that include modifications to the structures of households and often lead to grandmothers taking over the role of primary caregivers of children. All the participants were grandmothers residing in Groenheuwel who were primarily responsible for their grandchildren. These grandmothers act as primary caregivers because the parents of their grandchildren are deceased, have abandoned their children or lack financial resources to care for their own children. This article focuses on the psychosocial experiences of these coloured grandmothers who care for their grandchildren. A qualitative research design was used together with a purposive and snowball sampling method whereby 12 coloured grandmothers in the Groenheuwel community in Paarl, South Africa were selected. A reflective group discussion was held during which the Mmogo–methodTM was applied. The meanings of the visual representations were used as textual data. Both the textual and the visual data obtained by means of a video camera, were analyzed through thematic analysis. Data collection occurred at a community centre close to Groenheuwel. In this study crystallization enhanced trustworthiness by using multiple methods of data collection and analysis. The researcher constructed three main themes from the findings: challenges associated with caring for grandchildren, coping with challenges associated with caring for grandchildren and intergenerational relationships. The results showed that grandmothers experienced feelings of ambivalence regarding caring for their grandchildren. On the one hand they experience difficulty with disciplining their grandchildren, tiredness due to caring for their grandchildren and a lack of resources. On the other hand they find immense support in their existential relationship with God and their community. This ambivalence seems to be embedded in the nostalgia that dictates the nature of the intergenerational vi relationships between themselves and their grandchildren. However, notwithstanding the ambivalence the grandmothers strongly believe that caring for their grandchildren is a responsibility that has been given to them by God and therefore He will provide in their needs.
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