Volume 5, No. 1, Spring 2000
Review of Video Tape: "Going to Grandma's House . . . to Live"
Produced by the Parent Place, Springfield, IL
Review by: Luci Bearon
In recent weeks, the mass media have been running a number of stories about the important and varied roles grandparents play in the lives of children. One set of stories features a Supreme Court case in which grandparents are pursuing visitation rights (http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/scotus_grandparents990928.html). Another set reports on the frequency and quality of grandparent/grandchild interaction (http://www.aarp.org).
One issue also in the spotlight is the increasing prevalence of grandparents serving as surrogate parents in families where the parent is unable to provide adequate care due to substance abuse, illness, incarceration, or immaturity. Grandparents raising grandchildren face a variety of challenges, including legal issues in custody and adoption, added financial responsibilities, complicated family dynamics, parenting in a changing world, and coping with the stresses created by the situation.
Slowly, materials are being developed to meet the educational needs of this varied but primarily female and midlife clientele. There are now a few Extension or Extension-type curricula, a few popular guidebooks and many articles, pamphlets, resource directories addressed to state and local populations. There are, however, only a few videos that are useful for making this issue come alive. One such video is "Going to Grandma's House...to Live" produced in 1998 by Dina Coates-Koebler of the Parent Place in Springfield, Illinois, with the University of Illinois at Springfield Television Office. This 18-minute video weaves basic information on grandparents raising grandchildren with excerpts from interviews with three real-life custodial grandmothers and one custodial aunt all struggling with unplanned and stressful parenting situations.
In the first part of the video, Coates-Koebler provides a voice-over for a succession of still photos of children and grandparents. Her narrative profiles grandparents raising grandchildren and introduces some of the most common and challenging issues. Then the video introduces four women: Marge, who raised her grandchildren while their parents were in prison for armed robbery; Peggy, who is raising a preschooler whose hyperactivity is a challenge for Peggy's deaf and anxious husband; Rosetta, who is raising her niece against the wishes of an irresponsible birth parent; and Pieretta who is parenting, and trying to adopt, a grandson while working and planning for retirement.
The interviews are provocative as the women have heart-rending realities. Marge, who lives on Social Security disability, was forced to take a second mortgage on a completely paid-up home. Now that the parents are out of prison, they refuse to allow her visitation on the grounds that she might interfere with their efforts to set up a viable family unit. Peggy's dilemmas are made real in a spontaneous scene in which her little grandson runs through the room, and knocks over the video production equipment. Rosetta shares her dismay over the fact that her niece's parents want custody solely for the Social Security check they would gain control over. Pieretta explains a number of frustrations she faced in accessing the legal system, handling the costs of parenting, adjusting her retirement plans, etc. Each woman gives several compelling examples about how the family problems impact negatively on the grandchildren themselves.
The video is an excellent trigger film for use in Extension programming. The content is informative, factual, and, importantly for this issue, touches emotions. The people in the still photos and the four women interviewed include whites and African-Americans, with a variety of family situations. The video flows smoothly, is entertaining, and brief enough to leave plenty of time for discussion. The only problem with the video is that the sound quality varies from segment to segment, forcing the audience to strain to hear a few spoken comments.
I have used this video with Extension professionals and with grandparents raising grandchildren to unanimous praise because the women interviewed are so engaging, and the situations graphic and real. Grandparents raising grandchildren identify with the women and find their challenges treated with a great deal of respect. Indeed, the narrator refers to the women as "heroes" because without them, the children would become the responsibility of society at large. In any event, no one who sees the video will easily forget these women. They are the faces of a group of people often invisible.
Title: "Going to Grandma's House . . . To Live"
Author: The Parent Place (Dina Coates-Koebler, Exec. Producer)
Address: 2211 Wabash Ave., Springfield, IL 62704
Phone: (217) 546-5257
Reviewed by: Dr. Luci Bearon is an Assistant Professor and Adult Development/Aging Specialist at NC State University. Dr. Bearon is the Associate Editor for Reviews for FFCI.
If you would like to submit a review for a book, video, curriculum, or other teaching tool that you have used, please send your submission to the Associate Editor for Reviews, Dr. Luci Bearon, North Carolina State University, Campus Box 7605, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7605. If you have any questions, you may e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (919) 515-9146. Submit four copies of your review, including one copy that contains a cover sheet with your name, job title, organization, business address, phone number, fax, and e-mail address. Also submit your review either on a 3½ inch disk in WordPerfect or as an e-mail attachment in WordPerfect. Please double space and use a block style (no tabs or indents).
We are looking for reviews of materials expressly designed for use in an Extension curriculum with a public audience, or that have been developed for different purposes but hold promise for use by Extension educators. Although we will focus on materials immediately applicable for teaching, we may on occasion include reviews of important theoretical and research-based materials if they provide solid and digestible background information for curriculum development. Materials reviewed may be on any topic related to the main branches of family and consumer sciences: housing and home furnishings, clothing and textiles, health, food and nutrition, human development, family resource management, or on topics that have clear practical implications for families and consumers. The materials under review must be thoroughly identified, including author, publisher, date of publication, and information on how to obtain a copy of the materials.
If you would like a review of educational materials that you have authored, developed, or published that meet the above criteria, please send the materials for review to me at the address above, postage prepaid. FFCI will not be able to purchase or rent any materials submitted, and they are nonreturnable.
We are also seeking volunteers to review materials. If you would like to review materials for this journal, please send me your name, job title, business address, e-mail address, phone number, fax number, short resume, and one to three topic areas in which you have interest and expertise. Please be as specific as possible, and send this information to my e-mail address above.
Cite this article:
"Reviews." The Forum for Family and Consumer Issues 5.1 (2000) 7 pars. 31 March 2000.