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Building on strengths: intergenerational practice with African American families.

Family networks, composed of several generations (three of more), have been a source of strength for African American African American Multiculture A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. See Race.  families. Multigenerations providing support and care for family members and fictive fic·tive  
1. Of, relating to, or able to engage in imaginative invention.

2. Of, relating to, or being fiction; fictional.

3. Not genuine; sham.
 kin (non-blood relatives) across the life course have been well documented (Billingsley, 1992; Billingsley & Morrison-Rodriguez, 1998; Hill, 1971, 1993, 1998, 1999; Martin & Martin, 1985; McAdoo, 1998; Schiele, 1996, 2000). Born out of African traditions and adaptation to a harsh environment, multigenerational families have persevered in the face of disparity dis·par·i·ty  
n. pl. dis·par·i·ties
1. The condition or fact of being unequal, as in age, rank, or degree; difference: "narrow the economic disparities among regions and industries" 
 and oppression spanning 400 years of slavery, years of "Jim Crow Jim Crow

Negro stereotype popularized by 19th-century minstrel shows. [Am. Hist.: Van Doren, 138]

See : Bigotry
," and decades of segregation, marginalization mar·gin·al·ize  
tr.v. mar·gin·al·ized, mar·gin·al·iz·ing, mar·gin·al·iz·es
To relegate or confine to a lower or outer limit or edge, as of social standing.
, and intentional and unintentional racism (Christian, 1995). Despite these obstacles, people of African descent have a legacy of intergenerational in·ter·gen·er·a·tion·al  
Being or occurring between generations: "These social-insurance programs are intergenerational and all
 kinship kinship, relationship by blood (consanguinity) or marriage (affinity) between persons; also, in anthropology and sociology, a system of rules, based on such relationships, governing descent, inheritance, marriage, extramarital sexual relations, and sometimes , resilience, spirituality, and hope (Bagley & Carroll, 1998; Denby, 1996). Multigenerational families and intergenerational kinships have played a significant role in preserving and strengthening African American families.

As our society ages, multigenerational families will be more common, resulting in longer years of "shared lives" across generations (Bengtson, 2001; Bengtson & Roberts, 1991). It has been predicted that there will be almost equal bands of older adults, middle generation adults, young adults, adolescents, and children as we move deeper into the 21st century (U.S. Census Bureau Noun 1. Census Bureau - the bureau of the Commerce Department responsible for taking the census; provides demographic information and analyses about the population of the United States
Bureau of the Census
, 2004). This statistic statistic,
n a value or number that describes a series of quantitative observations or measures; a value calculated from a sample.


a numerical value calculated from a number of observations in order to summarize them.
 holds true for African Americans. The numbers of African American elders, age 65 and older, are increasing. Between 1980 and 1995, the number of African Americans increased from 2.1 million to 2.7 million (a 29 percent increase). This group is expected to expand to 6.9 million by 2030 and 8.6 million by 2050 (Miles, 1999). Individuals are now more likely to grow older in four-, or even more, generation families; spend an unprecedented number of years in family roles such as grandparent and great-grandparent; and remain part of a network of intergenerational family ties (Bengtson, 2001; Bengtson, Rosenthal, & Burton, 1990; Hagestad, 1996; Riley, 1987). Kin, and non-kin, will be available to provide care and assistance to younger families (King, 1994; Silverstein, Parrott, & Bengtson, 1995) and caregiving for dependent elders (Bengtson et al., 1990). In view of the changing demographics The attributes of people in a particular geographic area. Used for marketing purposes, population, ethnic origins, religion, spoken language, income and age range are examples of demographic data. , it is important to revisit re·vis·it  
tr.v. re·vis·it·ed, re·vis·it·ing, re·vis·its
To visit again.

A second or repeated visit.

 cultural values regarding how families interact across generations.

Historically, cultural values, family practices, and strengths, such as special care for children and elders, kinship ties, and collectivism collectivism

Any of several types of social organization that ascribe central importance to the groups to which individuals belong (e.g., state, nation, ethnic group, or social class). It may be contrasted with individualism.
 have been part of African American fife (Barnes, 2001). Hill (1971, 1999) wrote eloquently el·o·quent  
1. Characterized by persuasive, powerful discourse: an eloquent speaker; an eloquent sermon.

 about five strengths of African American families: strong achievement orientation, strong work orientation, flexible family roles, strong kinship bonds, and strong religious orientation Noun 1. religious orientation - an attitude toward religion or religious practices
orientation - an integrated set of attitudes and beliefs

agnosticism - a religious orientation of doubt; a denial of ultimate knowledge of the existence of God; "agnosticism
. Hill and others have pointed to strengths that are linked to history, culture, values, and cultural adaptations and suggested that building on these strengths is a good strategy for working with African American families (Freeman & Logan, 2004; Logan, 2001; McAdoo, 1998; McCullough-Chavis & Wakes, 2004; Staples, 1999). Strong kinship ties, intergenerational support, faith, and coming together during times of need have been effective resources for African American families.

Today's social environment, and the challenges individuals and families face, warrant use and revitalization re·vi·tal·ize  
tr.v. re·vi·tal·ized, re·vi·tal·iz·ing, re·vi·tal·iz·es
To impart new life or vigor to: plans to revitalize inner-city neighborhoods; tried to revitalize a flagging economy.
 of cultural strengths. Problems such as drug and alcohol addiction, overrepresentation of African American children in foster care, HIV HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), either of two closely related retroviruses that invade T-helper lymphocytes and are responsible for AIDS. There are two types of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1 is responsible for the vast majority of AIDS in the United States.  and AIDS, health disparities

Main article: Race and health

Health disparities (also called health inequalities in some countries) refer to gaps in the quality of health and health care across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
, high rates of incarceration Confinement in a jail or prison; imprisonment.

Police officers and other law enforcement officers are authorized by federal, state, and local lawmakers to arrest and confine persons suspected of crimes. The judicial system is authorized to confine persons convicted of crimes.
, unemployment, and poverty are severe and complex. Many individuals and families have demonstrated remarkable resilience; others have suffered. Effective strategies to help families as they contend with pressing issues are rooted in African American cultural strengths. Cultural values and practices that sustained families in the past can be used to empower families today. Use of the power of intergenerational kinships and multigenerational family support can serve to preserve and strengthen vulnerable African American families.

Over the past 20 years, a number of practice approaches have been proposed for culturally competent practice with African Americans and other ethnic and racial groups. Strengths-based, empowerment-oriented, ethnically sensitive, constructionist con·struc·tion·ist  
A person who construes a legal text or document in a specified way: a strict constructionist.
, Afrocentric, and social justice frameworks have been used to guide practice with African American families. Such frameworks provide models by which social problems are assessed and intervention strategies are outlined. Many recognize multigenerational and extended family strengths. However, there is a need for an approach that builds on and restores the strengths of multigenerational families and intergenerational kinship. This approach may include restoring the influence of the extended family's multigenerational network so that relatives and fictive kin are encouraged to remain involved with family members and step forward to provide support and care. An Afrocentric, intergenerational solidarity approach that acknowledges the family life cycle, as well as the values and traditions that have sustained people of African descent, is a mechanism for promoting family closeness and responsibility. Embracing the legacies and wisdom of past generations and the hope and promise of the future is a framework for best practice. This article describes an intergenerational model that can be used to understand and provide support and assistance to African American families. The model defines families of African descent from an Afrocentric intergenerational perspective. It highlights the history and interconnectedness of African American families and communities and takes into account the temporal nature of the family life cycle.


An intergenerational perspective is relevant to social work practice with African American families. It brings an awareness of and attention to kinship, intergenerational relationships, and multigenerational families. Strengths, values, and practices that are transmitted across generations, family life cycle stages, intergenerational support, and current cultural context are central to this perspective (Waites, 2008). It provides a framework for understanding the past, exploring the current environment, and using culturally relevant strategies and practices to empower families.

Interganerational Solidarity

Family relationships across generations are becoming increasingly important. Changes in family age structures are creating longer years of shared lives (Bengtson, 2001). Bengtson stated that "intergenerational bonds are more important than nuclear family ties for well-being and support over the life course" (Bengtson, 2001, p. 7).With increased longevity, parents, grandparents, and other relatives can be available to serve as resources for younger generations. Kin, across several generations, will increasingly be called on to provide essential family functions; intergenerational support and care will increase over time.

Bengtson and his colleagues (Bengtson & Roberts, 1991; Bengtson & Schrader, 1982) provided a multidimensional construct for understanding intergenerational relationships. Derived from classical social theory, social psychology, and family sociology, their intergenerational solidarity model examines social cohesion cohesion: see adhesion and cohesion.
Cohesion (physics)

The tendency of atoms or molecules to coalesce into extended condensed states. This tendency is practically universal.
 between generations. The construct evolved from a longitudinal study longitudinal study

a chronological study in epidemiology which attempts to establish a relationship between an antecedent cause and a subsequent effect. See also cohort study.
 consisting of a cross-sectional survey with more than 2,044 participants from three generational families. Data were collected at three intervals, including the great-grandchild generation. From this research, Bengtson and others (Bengston & Mangen, 1988; Bengston & Schrader, 1982; Roberts, Richards, & Bengtson, 1991) constructed an intergenerational solidarity taxonomy taxonomy: see classification.

In biology, the classification of organisms into a hierarchy of groupings, from the general to the particular, that reflect evolutionary and usually morphological relationships: kingdom, phylum, class, order,
 for understanding intergenerational relationships. These six elements provide a mechanism for understanding intergenerational relationships and are discussed later in greater detail.

Afrocentric Worldview world·view  
n. In both senses also called Weltanschauung.
1. The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.

2. A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group.

An Afrocentric paradigm fits nicely with the intergenerational solidarity framework because it affirms human capacities and family and cultural strengths and promotes intergenerational connections. It presents a worldview that highlights traditional African philosophical assumptions, which emphasize a holistic, interdependent, and spiritual conception of people and their environment (Schiele, 2000).

The Afrocentric paradigm affirms that there are universal cultural strengths and an African worldview that survived the generational devastations caused by the transatlantic slave trade slave trade

Capturing, selling, and buying of slaves. Slavery has existed throughout the world from ancient times, and trading in slaves has been equally universal. Slaves were taken from the Slavs and Iranians from antiquity to the 19th century, from the sub-Saharan
 and the oppression that followed. As a result, it is important to understand and respect the customs, practices, and values that are central to African American families and communities. These cultural strengths, as previously described, can be used in micro, meso, and macro interventions to enhance the lives of all people, particular people of color Noun 1. people of color - a race with skin pigmentation different from the white race (especially Blacks)
people of colour, colour, color

race - people who are believed to belong to the same genetic stock; "some biologists doubt that there are important
 (Schiele, 2000).

Family Life Cycle

Families are at the heart of the intergenerational perspective. Families have shared history and futures (Carter & McGoldrick, 1999); they move through time together. The sharing of history and futures and the moving through time together are often referred to as family life cycle stages. Theses stages have been identified as leaving home, single young adults,joining of families through marriage, the new couple, families with young children, families with adolescents, launching children and moving on, and families in later life (Carter & McGoldrick, 1999). Relationships with parents, siblings siblings npl (formal) → frères et sœurs mpl (de mêmes parents) , grandparents, and other family members experience transitions as each group moves along the family life cycle. Multiple family units are formed (for example, families with young children and families in later life), and all are a part of the larger multigenerational family. In this respect, there is a temporal reality associated with multigenerational families, and the family life cycle provides some descriptive information regarding how families move across time.

The stages described by Carter and McGoldrick (1999) laid a foundation for understanding African American families and family life cycle stages. African cultural traditions, environmental realities, and the diversity of family forms--which evolved from cultural traditions and adaptations to hardships--are also relevant. They provide insights regarding intergenerational relationships and temporal stages. A legacy of strong intergenerational kinship, multigenerational families, and extended family networks is reflected in Hill's (1999) flexible family roles. For example, caregiving is an important value for African American families. Grandparents may step in to assist or raise a grandchild. A single parent may depend on support from parents, or grandparents, after a child is born. African American children raised by grandparents often feel filial filial /fil·i·al/ (fil´e-al)
1. of or pertaining to a son or daughter.

2. in genetics, of or pertaining to those generations following the initial (parental) generation.
 obligations to care for parents and grandparents (Ruiz & Carlton-LaNey, 1999). Extended family may play important roles and provide support and care to young and older adult relatives. Multigenerations may live in the same residence and pool their resources. For African American families, the family life cycle stages have significant intergenerational patterns of assistance and care that are reciprocal over time. These intergenerational supports, in some cases, may be in need of validation, nurturing, and revitalization to strengthen and support troubled families (Waites, 2008).


The Afrocentric intergenerational practice model presented here builds on the solidarity construct and the Afrocentric paradigm. It acknowledges the diversity and flexibility of the family life cycle and brings attention to traditions and cultural influences, specifically, caregiving, kinship bonds, the interconnectedness of families, and extended families. It reflects an approach that respects and supports the strengths and resilience of intergenerational kinship. This practice model's basic principles promote a society that values all generations and

* recognizes that each generation has unique strengths--each person, young and older, is a resource

* recognizes the roles of youths, middle generations, and elders in families and communities

* acknowledges conflicts that may occur in intergenerational relationships

* encourages collaboration and support across generations

* fosters intergenerational kinship and interdependence

* fosters public policy that recognizes and ad dresses the needs of all generations

* supports and nurtures family and cultural strengths.

This model is culturally responsive in that it uses strategies that are compatible with culturally competent practice and transforms knowledge and cultural awareness into interventions that support and sustain healthy family functioning (McPhatter, 1997; Waites, Macgowan, Pennell, Carlton-LaNey, & Weil, 2004).

Afrocentric Intergenerational Solidarity Model

The Afrocentric intergenerational solidarity model consists of six solidarity elements and provides indicators of intergenerational cohesion. The infusion of an Afrocentric worldview provides culturally relevant issues, questions, and empowerment-oriented strategies. The first element, associational solidarity, focuses on the type and frequency of contact between generations (see Table 1). Examining the amount and nature of intergenerational contact is at the forefront. Within an Afrocentric worldview, assessing family traditions and history regarding communication is important. Once information is obtained, a process of nurturing, reinforcing, and revitalizing re·vi·tal·ize  
tr.v. re·vi·tal·ized, re·vi·tal·iz·ing, re·vi·tal·iz·es
To impart new life or vigor to: plans to revitalize inner-city neighborhoods; tried to revitalize a flagging economy.
 contact and communication among family members can be undertaken. Intergenerational communication may go beyond phone calls; traditions such as Sunday dinners, regular family visits, family reunions, special events, and other celebrations are mechanism for connections. Intergenerational communication can lead to strong supportive networks and enhance the amount and quality of intergenerational contact.

The second element, affectional solidarity, addresses the expressed closeness, warmth, and trust found in intergenerational kinships. The indicators call for the practitioner to look at emotional ties to family and community, signs of intergenerational conflict An intergenerational conflict is either a conflict situation between teenagers and adults or a more abstract conflict between two generations, which often involves all inclusive prejudices against another generation. , and the overall reciprocity reciprocity

In international trade, the granting of mutual concessions on tariffs, quotas, or other commercial restrictions. Reciprocity implies that these concessions are neither intended nor expected to be generalized to other countries with which the contracting parties
 of positive sentiment among family members and across generations. With an Afrocentric view, affiliations with and sentiments toward the extended family, and the African American community as a whole, must also be explored. The goal is to assess and address the issues of affection, trust, and closeness and to support and nurture NURTURE. The act of taking care of children and educating them: the right to the nurture of children generally belongs to the father till the child shall arrive at the age of fourteen years, and not longer. Till then, he is guardian by nurture. Co. Litt. 38 b.  relational understanding and reciprocity across generations.

The third element, consensual CONSENSUAL, civil law. This word is applied to designate one species of contract known in the civil laws; these contracts derive their name from the consent of the parties which is required in their formation, as they cannot exist without such consent.
 solidarity, looks at agreements of values and beliefs. The indicators call for an assessment of intrafamilial concordance. Assessing the transmission and agreement of Afrocentric values, beliefs, and traditions, as well as the cultural strengths, enhances the cultural relevance of practice. Understanding family members' generational differences and their willingness to build intergenerational respect, dialogue, and collaboration is also important. The model suggests that practitioners encourage the understanding and recognition of cultural strengths. In addition, attempts should be made to support family and extended family as they engage in history reminding, consciousness raising Consciousness raising (often abbreviated c.r.) is a form of political activism, pioneered by United States radical feminists in the late 1960s. It often takes the form of a group of people attempting to focus the attention of a wider group of people on some cause or , and intergenerational understanding and respect.

The fourth element,functional solidarity, addresses the frequency of intergenerational exchanges of assistance and resources. The indicators direct the assessment of help giving and receiving and how families assist and support each other. The role of collectivism, extended family support, and community support from churches, lodges, fraternal orders fraternal orders, organizations whose members are usually bound by oath and who make extensive use of secret ritual in the conduct of their meetings. Most fraternal orders are limited to members of one sex, although some include both men and women. , and so forth are also assessed. Mechanisms to support equable eq·ua·ble  
a. Unvarying; steady.

b. Free from extremes.

2. Not easily disturbed; serene: an equable temper.
 intergenerational care and the use of formal and informal resources are suggested. This may include extended family, fictive kin, church family, intergenerational programs, or other community resources.

Normative nor·ma·tive  
Of, relating to, or prescribing a norm or standard: normative grammar.

 solidarity, the fifth element, looks at filial responsibility and obligations. The indicators are family roles and the strength of obligation to those roles. The Afrocentric worldview expands this sense of obligation not only to parents, grandparents, children, and grandchildren, but also to the extended family, fictive kin, and the community as a whole. Intergenerational family and extended family support, and the use of community programs and formal resources, are encouraged.

The sixth and last element, structural solidarity, highlights the opportunity for intergenerational interaction as it relates to residential propinquity PROPINQUITY. Kindred; parentage. Vide. Affinity; Consanguinity; Next of kin. . For example, some older adults reside with their children or grandchildren in coresidential situations or in the same community. This arrangement affords them great intergenerational access. Some families, however, may move far away and relocate due to employment opportunities elsewhere. Older adults may be unable to travel to family or community events due to distant locations, health issues, or limited access to convenient and affordable transportation. Both latter situations affect opportunities to maintain close contact. The empirical indicators focus on the residential proximity of family members, the number of family members, and health and disability issues.Afrocentric worldviews expand this element so that migration patterns, transportation issues, and travel distances are included. The empowerment strategy focuses on helping families rethink how to address structural proximity barriers. This could take the form of family members organizing and sharing transportation resources or establishing a family "home place" or location where family members can gather for respite RESPITE, contracts, civil law. An act by which a debtor who is unable to satisfy his debts at the moment, transacts (i. e. compromises) with his creditors, and obtains from them time or delay for the payment of the sums which he owes to them. Louis. Code, 3051. , celebrations, and support.

Using This Model

This model is not complicated and can be used in harmony with other empowerment-oriented approaches. A culturally appropriate assessment of intergenerational issues and resources is conducted. Practitioners are directed to explore each of the intergenerational solidarity elements with family members using the practice strategies outlined in Table 2.

Associational solidarity is explored by asking family members questions about their family traditions and how they communicate and keep in touch with each other. Family solidarity is enhanced when there are traditions, activities, and history that serve to keep family members connected--for example, Sunday dinners at a relative's home, regular phone calls, church or religious service attendance, family reunions, birthday celebrations, or Christmas or other holiday activities. The practitioner can work with family members to use a variety of practice strategies (outlined in Table 2) to help family members improve their associational solidarity. This might include encouraging family members to plan and or participate in family events. Participation in family events can lead to more cross-generational communication and contact.

Affectional solidarity questions are posed to family members by first exploring whom they feel particularly close to and why. Helping family members understand their traditions regarding family roles and relationships and how they influence affectional solidarity is an important practice strategy. Affectional solidarity can be nurtured by encouraging a sense of intergenerational kinship-that is, affection for family and extended family members. It encompasses cultivation of intergenerational relationships. The practitioner role is to aid family members in identifying and developing closer ties.

Consensual solidarity is also important and can be explored by discussing family values family values
The moral and social values traditionally maintained and affirmed within a family.
 and by affirming a shared vision for family life. Exploring family members' perceptions and generation differences and similarities provides information regarding family solidarity. Gauging the family's sense of cultural pride and their African American identify is also pertinent. Cultural pride can serve as a unifying force for family solidarity. History reminding to facilitate appreciation of family cultural strengths is appropriate as a practice strategy and might include providing information about cultural history, supporting family opportunities to share thoughts and information about cultural values and beliefs, and engaging family members in activities that will enhance cultural pride. Communities often have Kwanzaa celebrations, concerts, and religious-related programs; watch movies and videos; read books; or engage in culturally inspired storytelling Storytelling

semi-legendary fabulist of ancient Greece. [Gk. Lit.: Harvey, 10]


Baron traveler grossly embellishes his experiences. [Ger. Lit.
 activities. These resources can serve as activities and information that connect the generations and facilitate consensual solidarity.

Functional solidarity is assessed by identification of the "go-to" family members when someone needs assistance. It is also important to identify family roles and resources and how support and care are exchanged across the family and the generations. The practice strategy is to create or restore the family helping network and involves helping family members to embrace shared responsibility and intergenerational support and care for all family members.

Normative solidarity is assessed by exploring expectations regarding family roles. It is also crucial to discuss what happens when someone is not able to perform the designated role. What are the family norms for who should step in? The practice strategy is to affirm, strengthen, and formalize the family members' commitment to one another. This may take the form of encouraging the development of multigenerational networks where children, parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles all play a role in supporting and caring for family members. Because this responsibility can be demanding, connecting families with community resources such as family support programs, support groups for caregivers, and other programs that serve to strengthen families and extended family helping is crucial.

Structural solidarity is explored by assessing family proximity. Some families use the home of a family member to gather for celebrations or other rituals: It is their home place. Other families do not have a central location, and some family members may live great distances from the family core of the home place. The role of the practitioner is to help family members explore proximity issues and overcome barriers to traveling and visiting with relatives. This help might include pooling of resources so that all family members can attend the family reunions, church or religious services, and health and wellness care. Providing assistance to families in the use of strategies to support involvement in family and extended family activities could help family members to visit and stay connected.

Use of this model involves the exploration of all solidarity elements. Family members and families may show strengths in a specific area. If not, the practitioner can then use one or all of the strategies suggested in the Practice Strategy sections of Table 2. To follow are three vignettes that present contemporary family issues and suggested strategies.

Vignette Vignette

A symbol or pictorial representation of the corporation on a stock certificate. Usually a complicated and artistic design, it is meant to make the counterfeiting of stock certificates as difficult as possible.
 One. Denise is a 32-year-old African American single, divorced mother who is trying to cope with caregiving for both her son and her grandmother. Denise's nine-year-old son, David, has been referred to the school social worker due to excessive absences from school. Her 69-year-old grandmother had a stroke, six months ago, and is now residing with Denise and her son David and her 14-year-old daughter. Denise is distraught dis·traught  
1. Deeply agitated, as from emotional conflict.

2. Mad; insane.

[Middle English, alteration of distract, past participle of distracten,
 because her maternal grandmother was "the strong one in the family." All solidarity elements must be assessed. However, there is a pressing need for support and assistance for Denise and her family. This calls for focusing first on normative and functional solidarity. The worker can help Denise examine her current caregiving roles. It is also important for the worker to discuss Denise's decision to care for her grandmother--What is her sense of obligation and commitment to this role? Once Denise has explored her caregiving values, beliefs, the realities of her situation, and her intentions, she and the practitioner can develop a plan. This might include exploring family resources, the availability of other family and extended family members for support and caregiving, and more formal resources.

Vignette Two. Mr. Brown is an 84-year-old African American, retired Navy civilian dock worker. His wife of 47 years died 14 years ago after a battling cancer for four years. His only son died in an accident 22 years ago. Mr. Brown has two granddaughters, ages 30 and 32, and one great-grandson, age 9. They talk on the phone occasionally, but his granddaughters and great-grandson live 2,000 miles away, and he has not been able to visit them. Mr. Brown reports that he is "lonely" and is considering moving into an assisted-living facility. He wants to reconnect with his family before he moves. All the solidarity elements must be assessed. Immediate issues appear to be Mr. Brown's expressed loneliness and his infrequent in·fre·quent  
1. Not occurring regularly; occasional or rare: an infrequent guest.

 contact with his granddaughters and great-grandson. This calls for focusing on associational, affectional, and structural solidarity. The worker can help Mr. Brown make contact with his granddaughters and with other family members, especially those family members who have been supportive in the past. Mechanism to maintain communication should also be explored. This may consist of organizing regular visiting, where transportation is arranged for Mr. Brown. It could also mean arranging regular phone contact, sharing pictures, and sending cards. Mr. Brown may also benefit from more contact with other family, extended family, and friends from church or any groups that he has participated in over his life course (for example, lodges, fraternal orders, church clubs, civic groups). Also, intergenerational programs, if available, may also be a good resource.

Vignette Three. Joan, a 41-year-old African American woman, is incarcerated incarcerated /in·car·cer·at·ed/ (in-kahr´ser-at?ed) imprisoned; constricted; subjected to incarceration.

Confined or trapped, as a hernia.
 because of a drug-related charge. She is in the second year of a three-year sentence and is now drug free. She has three sons, ages 19, 12, and 10. The two youngest sons reside with their paternal PATERNAL. That which belongs to the father or comes from him: as, paternal power, paternal relation, paternal estate, paternal line. Vide Line.  grandmother. Joan's oldest son has lived with her mother most of his life. Joan has not seen her sons in two years. The younger children's father died in a car accident; he was driving while impaired. Joan is very concerned about her sons and wants to provide a better life for them. She hopes to arrange visitation VISITATION. The act of examining into the affairs of a corporation.
     2. The power of visitation is applicable only to ecclesiastical and eleemosynary corporations. 1 Bl. Com. 480; 2 Kid on Corp. 174.
, and, so far, her younger son's grandmother has been uncooperative. Her 19-year-old son has refused to visit. Although all solidarity elements should be assessed first, this situation points to affectional and consensual solidarity problems. Joan must be aware that her addiction and past behaviors may have caused apprehension and skepticism on the part of her family. As the practitioner helps Joan to make contact with her children, it will be important for him or her to engage the family in forgiveness, relationship building, and reaffirming of a shared vision across generations for the health and well-being of the children and family. The kinship bonds are in need of revitalization.


In view of contemporary issues facing families and the significance of multigenerational families, culturally relevant models of practice are called for. African American multigenerational families have a legacy of resilience, spirituality, and hope that has served to fortify for·ti·fy  
v. for·ti·fied, for·ti·fy·ing, for·ti·fies
To make strong, as:
a. To strengthen and secure (a position) with fortifications.

b. To reinforce by adding material.
 vulnerable members. As our society ages, the number of multigenerational families will increase, and intergenerational cohesion issues will move to the forefront. This demographic shift, and the opportunity for shared lives, can be an asset for families. An empowerment-oriented framework that provides a mechanism to build on cultural strengths, intergenerational kinship, and support processes by which generations can provide mutual assistance and care during times of need is indicated. This model is a good step in that direction. Many aspects of this model have been a part of culturally responsive work with African American families.

The Afrocentric intergenerational sodality so·dal·i·ty  
n. pl. so·dal·i·ties
1. A society or an association, especially a devotional or charitable society for the laity in the Roman Catholic Church.

2. Fellowship.
 model is a strengths-based approach that works to empower multigenerational families and intergenerational relationships. In this regard, there is an assumption that families and extended families have strengths and that some form of intergenerational kinship can be nurtured. A shortcoming of this model is that the full application of each solidarity component has not been systematically tested. I plan to apply this model to practice interventions and intergenerational programming.

The Afrocentric intergenerational practice model shows promise. Building on Bengtson and others' intergenerational solidarity construct, infused with an Afrocentric worldview, this model provides a culturally relevant approach for work with African American multigenerational families. It facilitates an understanding of how intergenerational relationships can be supported and provides multidimensional guidance regarding intergenerational relationships and multigenerational families. The intergenerational model considers generational transmission from a strengths perspective, looking not only at problems, but also at the assets that multiple generations may provide. It is a framework that taps into the power, resilience, and capital from past and current traditions and relationships. The three vignettes provide examples of how this model might be used. To fully examine this model, additional applications should be studied.

Application of the Afrocentric intergenerational practice model, in conjunction with other empowerment-oriented approaches, is a best practice method. Social workers are called on to work with African American and other families. This work is especially relevant for work with vulnerable African American families in need of nurturance and care. As our society ages, it will be increasing important to understand intergenerational issues and develop resources that help multigenerational families navigate the complex and changing relationships and problems in our contemporary society. As we move through this century, this model may prove to be very relevant to the changing demographics of our aging society.

Original manuscript received May 7, 2007

Final revision received January 23, 2009

Accepted February 3, 2009


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Table 1: Intergenerational Solidarity with an Afrocentric Worldview

Construct--Element   Definition               Indicators

Associational        Frequency and          * Frequency of
  solidarity         patterns of              intergenerational
                     interaction in           interaction (that
                     various types of         is, face-to-face,
                     activities in which      telephone, mail)
                     family members
                     engage                 * Types of common
                                              activities shared
                                              (that is, recreation,
                                              special occasion, and
                                              so forth)

Affectional          Type and degree of     * Ratings of affection,
  solidarity         positive sentiments      warmth, closeness,
                     about family             understanding, trust,
                     members, and the         and respect for
                     degree of                family members
                     reciprocity of these
                                            * Ratings of perceived
                                              reciprocity in
                                              positive sentiments
                                              among family members

Consensual           Degree of agreement    * Intrafamilial
  solidarity         on values,               concordance among
                     attitudes, and           individual measures
                     beliefs among family     of specific values,
                     members                  attitudes, and

                                            * Ratings of perceived
                                              similarity with other
                                              family members in
                                              values, attitudes,
                                              and beliefs

Functional           Degree of helping      * Frequency of
  solidarity         and exchanges of         intergenerational
                     resources-giving and     exchanges of
                     receiving support        assistance (for
                     across generations       example, financial,
                                              physical, emotional)

                                            * Ratings of
                                              reciprocity in the
                                              exchange of

Normative            Strength of            * Ratings of
  solidarity         commitment to            importance of family
                     performance of           and
                     familial roles and       intergenerational
                     familial obligations     roles

                                            * Ratings of strength
                                              of filial obligations

Structural           Opportunity            * Residential
  solidarity         structure for            propinquity of
                     intergenerational        family members
                     reflected in number,   * Number of family
                     type, and geographic     members
                     proximity of family
                     member                 * Health of family

Construct--Element     Culturally Relevant Issues

Associational        * Family history, traditions, and practices
  solidarity           regarding family communication patterns,
                       and family gatherings and activities

                     * Intergenerational family members' access
                       to one another (that is, transportation,
                       telephone, computer literacy)

Affectional          * Preeminence of close parent-child
  solidarity           relationship,  grandparent relationships,
                       extended family relationships,  and so

Consensual           * Connections with Afrocentric values and
  solidarity           practices (that is, respect for elders,
                       special care for children and elders,
                       kinship ties, spirituality, collectivism,
                       and so forth)

                     * Generational values, similarities, and

Functional           * Supportive behaviors and traditions
  solidarity           (that is, role of  children, parents,
                       grandparents, extended family, the church,
                       lodges and fraternal orders, and so forth
                       in providing support and care)

Normative            * Afrocentric holistic, collectivist
  solidarity           orientation

                     * Filial beliefs and responsibilities
                       (that is, intergenerational support for
                       at-risk youths, young families, and
                       dependent elders)

                     * Availability of aunts, uncles, children,
                       extended family, church family, and other

Structural           * Location of family and extended family
  solidarity           members

                     * Migration history

                     * Transportation and travel distances and

Source: Bengtson, V. L., & Roberts, R.E.L. (1991). Intergenerational
solidarity in aging families: An example of formal theory
construction. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 53, 856-870.

Table 2: Afrocentric Intergenerational Solidarity Model-Questions
and Practice Strategies

Associational Solidarity
Questions                       Practice Strategies

* Tell me about your family's   * Encourage cross-generation
  traditions (holiday             communication, and contact.
  celebrations, Sunday
  dinners, family reunions,     * Help family consider
  special events, and so          methods to communicate and
  forth).                         to  support each other.

* How do you participate?       * Encourage family members
                                  to participate in family
* How does your family keep       events (family reunions,
  in touch? How do you keep       and so forth) and efforts
  in touch?                       to remain connected.

Affectional Solidarity          Practice Strategies
                                * Nurture relationship
* Tell me about the family        building, Intergenerational
  members you feel close to.      kinship, and equable care.

* What makes you feel           * Encourage supportive
  particularly close to this      family and extended family
  person?                         closeness.

* Tell me about your extended
  family and others who are
  like family. Do you feel
  close to them?

* Are their certain
  relationships or duties
  that you must honor and

Consensual Solidarity
Questions                         Practice Strategies

* Tell me about your family's   * Engage family in history
  history-your grandparents,      reminding to facilitate an
  great grandparents, and so      understanding of cultural
  forth.                          and family strengths.

* What were/are important       * Facilitate healing by
  values, beliefs, and            engaging family in
  traditions in your family?      activities that will
                                  enhance cultural pride and
* Do you and family members       self-esteem.
  have similar values and
  beliefs regarding -(sex,      * Encourage Intergenerational
  religion, education, drugs,     respect and help family
  etc.)?                          members acknowledge their
                                  shared visions.
* Do you feel a connection
  and pride with the African    * Help family recognize
  American community? What        Intergenerational resources
  type of cultural activities     and strengths.
  do you and your family
  participate in?

Functional Solidarity
Questions                       Practice Strategies

* How does your family          * Support flexible family
  respond when one of its         roles and Intergenerational
  members needs assistance?       kinship.

* Who are the family members    * Encourage reciprocal
  with resources (good,           Intergenerational support
  steady job; a home;             and care.
  savings; and so forth) in
  your family? Are they         * Assist family in using
  obligated to help out           informal (extended family,
  others in the family? Is        church or faith based, and
  there an exchange of            so forth) and formal
  resources?                      support systems and
* Do older family members
  feel obligated to help out
  younger family members, and
  is this help reciprocal?

Normative Solidarity
Questions                       Practice Strategies

* What roles do parents,        * Encourage and support
  grandparents, children,         caregiving and other family
  adult daughters and sons,       commitments.
  aunts, uncles, and so forth
  play in your family?          * Develop multigenerational
                                  family support programs for
* In your family, what            grandparents, and other
  happens when someone is not     kin, raising children and
  able to function in his or      for children caring for
  her role as parent, son,        dependent elders.
  daughter, caregiver, and
  so forth?                     * Encourage the development
                                  of an extended family
                                  support systems.

Structural Solidarity
Questions                       Practice Strategies

* Where do your family          * Help family overcome
  members live?                   travel- and
                                  visiting-related barriers.
* What led them to move to
  --? Do you visit?             * Help family members
                                  identify a plan for staying
* How do family members           connected.
  travel when they visit one
  another? Are there any        * Develop community
  barriers to visiting?           Intergenerational programs.

* Does your family have a
  "home place," a residence
  where family members gather
  for special occasions?
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Author:Waites, Cheryl
Publication:Social Work
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2009
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