Robyn Wind-Tiger and Tracey Haney

Robyn Wind-Tiger has a conversation with her friend Tracey Haney about the challenges and rewards they have experienced as grandparents, as well the role their culture has played in the upbringing of their family members.

Robyn: Other than being our age, and we’re not that old, we’re just kind of medium old, for grandparents, I guess, but other than having to start all over again, what do you feel like is the hardest part about being a relative caregiver?

Tracey: Well, I think it is having to be parent instead of grandparent.

Tracey: They tend to be, pardon the term “Disney Dad,” but Disney Parents. It’s all fun and games. They’re the ones that get to go to the trips, to go out to dinner, do all this other stuff. And then when he comes here, it’s dinner here, you’ve got your bedtime, you’ve got to clean, you’ve got to shower. Take kind of adverse in that role because I wanted to be the Disney Grandparent and do all that stuff. The kind of role reversal right now, those are difficult things, I guess, for me.

Robyn: That brings up something that I wanted to touch on and that is with this whole pandemic thing going on right now with COVID-19, it is concerning because both you and I have underlying health issues. We want to be sure that not only is our family healthy, our grandbabies are healthy, but we cannot afford, having to be people who care for our grandbabies, to get ill. That is something that I worry about, as well, is when he is not with me is he safe? Are they taking precautions? Has he been exposed to anybody? He also has underlying health issues, as well. That’s a big worry for me. It’s a big concern. Hopefully we’ll get passed this soon.

Robyn: You think of anything else we need to share with everybody? I know that being members of a tribal community, as far as relatives caring for their grandchildren or nieces or nephews or great-nieces or -nephews, that’s not something that is foreign to us, culturally. I know that right now, especially with the opioid epidemic, there is more people who are not American Indian are having to change their lives around and care for that. Historically, do you think that is something that we just take into stride and that’s just natural for us to do? How do you feel about that?

Tracey: Well, I think it is if you’re in a good place. I think about my grandmother that took in numerous children. I didn’t see that part, growing up, but they were all our uncles and aunts… blood relation. You having that type of role model that basically says, “You take care of others that are in need.” I don’t know if that was the question, but culture kind of influencing those decisions with them, I think, is a big factor because having seen that, witnessed it growing up, we know that we have a responsibility to more than just our nuclear family. He’s going to be raised knowing who his relatives are. He’s going to be given that opportunity to participate how he feels comfortable with culture and however that is. We talk our language sometimes.


This segment was produced by StoryCorps, a non-profit whose mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.

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