Catherine David, David Brooks, Robert Siegel discussed on On Point with Tom Ashbrook | Podcasts
Family? What works what doesn't work in your case. I'm Robert Siegel and this is on point. Astrology is as oldest civilization itself. And today it's easier to access than ever before thanks to the Internet and smartphones this week on through line how astrology almost one extinct and made a remarkable comeback through line from NPR. The podcast. Were we go back in time to understand the present this is on point. I'm Robert Siegel and we're discussing. The American family with New York Times columnist David Brooks his latest piece in the Atlantic is called. The nuclear family was a mistake and joining our conversation from Winston Salem. North Carolina is Dr Andrea Hunter. She's a professor of Human Development and family studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Andrea. Welcome to two point thank you. You've you've researched The phenomenon of the of the family and the extended family in African American society. Which is it's a different story. described the role of the extended family in for African Americans Certainly well first let me say that. I've studied African American family systems over the last two decades. Unc Greensboro and perhaps Even more important I was raised in one in an extended multi generation household embedded in a Broad extended family and. I just wanted to say I that David certain points to the demands and challenges that families are facing today and I certainly agree that this nineteen fifties invention of nuclear family. chase under those demands. But I do want to offer a different kinds of lands based on my work with African American families as well as my own experience in these families and that is that the lived. Experience of families is not one where the nuclear and extended family. Or by if you're catered or on different polls rather they're really dynamically connected. In complex ways. In these connections exist you know within households across them they straddle them and so in these connections can be very fluid or more bounded And certainly there informed by cultural culture and tradition and so when we begin to think about the African American families Certainly has been a centrally important ways in which families have been organize. There have been a source of resilience as David Notes a source of cultural continuation and survival. It certainly has helped African American families on dill with a difficult social economic dislocations and social and economic marginalization over time and in many ways African American families marriage engender has looked quite different And has not approximated that nineteen fifties social invention so in that way. I think that African Americans reflect The ways in which these kind of family type can be critically important at the same time We can think about the ways in which the extended family and nuclear families. Sorta multi mutually constituted And Think about the flow and ebb so less likely to sort of think about the kind of decline in the nuclear family of The disintegration of it and the ascendancy of the extended family system but rather to think about them and very mutual Mutual ways as a resource through which individual family members and also nuclear family. Units can draw on for to build their adaptive capacity. David Brooks Sound right to you Yeah it's a beautiful way to put it. I I I can just way express myself and maybe even the article that I wrote I. I try to imply that. They're two different things. An extended family is a nuclear family. With supports of the nuclear. Family is not going to go away. We're always going to have moms and kids and Dad's But I think the crucial question is what you support them with. And in the in the nineteen fifties and in many of our minds stay. The ideal is to you. Know Kids with parents in a house that sort of detached and sort of sufficient. But that's a that's never been the case with the African American community with family forms that were necessary under slavery was family forms that were necessary under Jim Crow. There was a struggle to find ways that were much more resilient much more supportive and I try to mention in the piece that they've always been grandparents involved. There's always been aunts and uncles. I spent a lot of this week in Watson Compton in south central La which are African. American and Latino communities and I guess I'd say you see two realities one you do meet young men who say you know. I Hate my dad. He's not around for me on the other hand. You see people of all forms of an all over chipping in creating relationship with young men and women raising children in ways that are adaptive flexible and successful. And so I I'd say those two realities the sort of disadvantages that a lot of young people grow up with a real. The family breakdown is real. But the family up is also very Let's hear from from some of our listeners. Cindy is on the line from Sterling Massachusetts You here Things that relate to what's happened in your family cindy definitely My husband and I just left our community in the north shore. A Boston to move out to central mass to buy a home with an in-law apartment so that we could live with my mother-in-law and There is you know. Despite the classic angst between Mother Laws and daughter-in-law's I was really the ones who spearheaded this. I'd recently taken some time off work to stay home with my kids and I just found the isolation and the burden of taking care of my kids by myself Especially as a woman with like the mental load and balance like everything I have to take care of The assigned to me essentially. Because I'm a mom and a wife I just found it really stressful and We decided to to make the move and my mother-in-law's recently widowed and She couldn't take care of herself and her house anymore. And I'm you know thrilled where my kids are going to be able to be with their grandchildren. And we're GONNA be able to help her and She's going to be able to help us for generations under the same roof. Yeah Yeah and I'm just you know I'm I'm so glad about it because it was just I as a stay at home. Mom temporarily hopefully There's just too much like the the loneliness isolation like in depression I experienced. And you know so. I'm hoping that that's GonNa it's GonNa be great for all of us. Thanks for talking with us about that David although Cindy described Redeveloping recreating an extended family to lessen stress. Do I have it right? There's a there's a point in your article that in Japan There's a study finding that women who were in multigenerational families were more stress stash than other women. Don't do I have that right. That is correct. And so in the old extended family of Avalon. Those families were possible because the women were stuck in the kitchen making meals for twenty five people. And we're not going to go back to those days. And frankly were much more individualistic culture. We're not going back to extended clans of of fifteen hundred years ago. So what we're trying to do is find a new balance and I think we've sort of overshot the mark on isolation and separation. And what things I liked about these new forged families into these new Extended families is. They're they're not as crushing Especially for women as the old ones support. They're not as isolating as the nuclear family. We wound up on. And the flexibility is part of that on the other hand and Perhaps Sandra hundred you encountered this as well One when you're a perhaps have a parent come in. Come and live with you Because the parent was old or widowed. Both of those things. But it wasn't it wasn't just about nursing it. It wasn't a it wasn't a matter of of caring for somebody who's ill and that seems to be increasingly what's happening here but it's not just that mother is old but Mother is frail needs constant attending to. I think what you see an African American families it's extending lots of different ways under different conditions so you may have elder kin bringing in young families to provide that support You may have aunts and uncles as coming in as they make a transition to other points and their life or a young mother and you may have families working together to To support an elder Ken and one of the things that within this environment you share caregiving. You grow through this ethic of care and And I think one of the as someone who's who also grew up in one of these families I think about how deeply I've been shaped by those intergenerational stories and those intergenerational stories are about culture and identity and family but they're in butte with so many values around How tweet how we treat each other. How do we deal with these different difficult circumstances so So I would say one of the models that comes out of the African American family and then the ways in which people are creating new families is that we're doing it in different ways. There's a lot of complexity There's one study that was involved in and there were a hundred eight different combinations of adults living with children. Let's not even talking about the cousins. You know the minor cousins and Nieces and nephews and the Fictive Kin So I think we're in an age of possibility and I think that The ways in which you can think about family think about family. These expensive ways opens up. Not only the chosen. But I to activate this extended family. That lives alongside. Us OF VICTORIA JOINS US now from Cape Cod Massachusetts high high. Yeah I was calling in because I'm sure a lot of immigrants are in a similar situation but my husband is from Although of a small town in a small country in eastern Europe and he really came here with no family and we know a lot of other people from the same country and it just kind of naturally happens where we create a new family so we spend holidays with people from the same country. We get closer with those people Almost like we cannot spend time with our immediate family overseas. And you almost reach out to those coming from a similar background and you just you really do create almost this new kind of family Where everyone's in the same situation and most of the people that we know don't have any family here either So it's I. I'm sure that a lot of other people in my mom is also from Brazil and it's the same thing growing up We just seem to. You know people from the same area just gathered together and almost create this new community and Family David Brooks. This is something that that you write about. Which is people Who really even if they want it. You could not Reassemble their extended family It's just not around but who do then create an extended family they They construct one. I'm I'm in one myself. I wanted to hear about that. Yeah so I went over to house in DC Maybe six seven years ago now and that that couple named Catherine David And they had a kid was in. Dc public schools and he had a friend who had no place to live or read and so they said well. James can stay with us and then James had a friend in the he had a friend and so on and so by the time I came over there they were like twenty five kids around the table and a bunch of them sleeping in the basement and we have an extended family. Call it A-ok dc all our kids DC and. We had dinner every Thursday night. We celebrate holidays together..