I'm a sucker for a new phrase, especially when it captures the definition of the moment. Here's my most recent find: Economy of gratitude. It refers to the breakdown in the way we treat each other--we being the parents and ourr adult children who have moved back into the family nest. It's when family members notice only the inconveniences and ignore the nice things that we do for one another.
According to a recent story in the Los Angeles Times, that doesn't have to happen. "Children and parents can peacefully coexist by approaching the new living arrangement as they would if they were taking on any roommate: Agree in advance on how to handle household purchases, cleaning and other responsibilities. Resolve the question of who is in charge and how the house is to be governed, and the situation may not seem so bad after all."
The L.A. Times is covering the issue because California is one of the epicenters of the foreclosure crisis. One of the phenomenons of that tragedy is that people who are losing their homes or in danger of losing their homes, are bunking in together intergenerationally. That is, parents with children or children with parents. But that phenomenon is not limited to the usual--parents and their 20-something children. It involves older children. And here's why
An AARP study--released in September and reflecting 2007 foreclosure woes--found that more than a quarter of the foreclosures and delinquencies in the second half of 2007 involved homeowners ages 50 or older. SInce then there has been the calamity of the plunging stock market and the unraveling of the financial safety net for many midcareer Americans and their parents. No reliable figures yet exist on the number of adults forced to move in with parents because of the financial crises--or adult children moving in with their parents to help the parents--but it's clear this group consists of older, previously well-established homeowners.
The time are a changin' and it's not for the better.