Abstract: The purpose of this preliminary study was to explore the Filipino American grandparent caregiver role of grandchildren. This descriptive qualitative study utilized three data collection methods: demographic information sheet, focus group, and field notes. The Filipino American grandparents were recruited from a church in Honolulu, Hawaii. Thematic analysis was used to analyze narrative data. Filipino American grandparents view the grandparenting caregiving role as a normative process rather than a burden in which families take on responsibilities as part of cultural beliefs and norms such as pakikisama, utang na loob, and authoritarianism. Pakikisama is family unity and closeness and Utang na loob is mutual reciprocity the give and take" and obligation in relationships.
Keywords: Grandparent Caregivers, Filipino-American Families
Approximately 6 million grandparents are living with their grandchildren (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000a). For many grandparents, caring for their grandchildren has become a full-time responsibility that has created multiple stressors and major life changes (Davidhizar, Bechtel, & Woodring, 2000; Kelley & Damato, 1995). Filipino Immigrants to the U.S. have the highest percentage (27%) of Asian American grandparents who are living with their own grandchildren under 18 years or age and who are responsible for their grandchildren (28%) (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000b,c). When the members of the Filipino nuclear family or extended family migrate to the U.S., they usually live together because the family is a major source of emotional, moral, and economic support. Many elders become surrogate parents and homemakers for their grandchildren when both parents are employed (Philippine Nurses Association of America, 2000). The family collectively provides a unique system of care for family members from birth to end of life (Barringer, Gardner, & Levin, 1995; Lantican & Corona, 1992; Santos, 1983). Filipinos strongly identify with their nuclear and extended family and the needs and welfare of the family come before those of the individual (Espiritu & Wolf, 2001; Jones, 1996; Tompar-Tiu & Sustento-Seneriches, 1995).
The majority of Filipino Americans currently living in the U.S. are first-generation Americans challenged with the difficulties of acculturation (Lee, 1997). Often there is a cultural gap between grandparents and grandchildren which may result in intergenerational conflicts when the children become more assertive about their Western acculturation towards individuality (Tompar-Tiu & Sustento Seneriches, 1995).
Although Filipino American grandparents play an integral role as caregivers to their grandchildren, they may also care for grandchildren at the expense of their own health. Filipino American elders have a higher incidence of diabetes and higher risk factors for coronary heart disease such as hypercholestremia and hypertension compared with Whites (Ryan, Shaw, Pliam et al., 2000). They also have a higher percentage of cases of schizophrenia as a diagnosis compared with other Asian groups (Bjorck, Cuthberston, Thurman et al., 2001). This article will (a) discuss the limited literature related to caregiving role among Asian Americans, in general, and Filipinos specifically, (b) describe a preliminary study which examines the role of Filipino grandparents as caregivers for their grandchildren, and (c) relate the findings of these grandparent caregivers from a cultural context.