It turns out the recession has a silver (haired) lining — kids are spending more time with their grandparents. But this may bode ill for future generations.
According to USA Today, census data show that 8% of kids now live with their grandparents, up from 6.3% in 2000. Experts think this is actually the biggest percentage ever. And it's not just living with Grandma and Grandpa that's on the rise: grandparents are also taking a bigger role in financially supporting their grandchildren, even if they don't live under the same roof. Says Amy Goyer of the AARP,
Grandparents have become the family safety net, and I don't see that changing any time soon. While they will continue to enjoy their traditional roles, including spending on gifts for grandchildren, I see them increasingly paying for the extras that parents are struggling to keep up with — sports, camps, tutoring or other educational needs, such as music lessons.
Paying for these extras may not be a problem for some grandparents in the short term. Unemployment is actually lower for people in their fifties and sixties than it is for those 25 to 34, so some kids may still have grandparents in the workforce when parents are laid off. But grandfather Doug Flockhart shares some of his worries for the long term:
It's not so much the day in and day out, it's the big picture as to how these young kids will grow up and pay for a college education and buy a house. The middle class is so much less well-off than it used to be. We've put aside some savings for them, but with seven grandchildren it can only go so far.
For those grandparents who can swing it, providing financial and other help may help stave off immediate crises. And in a country where people been increasingly cut off from family support, it's nice to see something reverse that trend. But poverty isn't the happiest way to bring families closer, and Flockhart's worries are legitimate — baby boomers may have enough savings and income to help their kids and grandkids for a while, but what happens when they're gone? It seems unlikely that the next generation, currently plagued with unemployment, will be able to make or save as much money as they did. So while relying on Grandma and Grandpa may work for now, America will need a better plan for the future.
Grandparents Play A Bigger Role In Child-Rearing [USA Today]
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