This harsh economic downturn takes it toll in many ways. Our 401ks may be lighter and tighter but our grown children face even grater perils: job loss, job change, job downgrade. Where they might have had full time nannies before, that is now a luxury. Or is it? Some of us are filling that gap. The only stat I've seen is one quoted in the article below, that about 40 percent of grandparents who live within an hour’s drive of young grandchildren provide regular child care while the mothers work; only 8 percent of them are rewarded financially. I have several friends who've answered the call for help--more about those stories in future blogs. Meanwhile, here's the phenomenon as reported by the Wall Street Journal (June 24).
WHEN GRANNY IS YOUR NANNY
By Sue Shellenbarger
Marie Rej, a consultant and mother of two, and her mother, Antoinette Traniello, often clash over the right way to raise kids. Antoinette thinks Marie is too lenient, and Marie regards Antoinette’s rules as too black-and-white.
But the Wakefield, Mass., mother and daughter are swallowing their differences so Antoinette can provide the summer child-care help Marie needs after a recent layoff and job change. Disagreements aside, Marie says gratefully, her mother “has told me she’ll pitch in wherever she’s needed.”
Similar scenes are playing out nationwide, as grandparents step up to meet the erratic child-care demands imposed by a rocky economy. Prevailing child-rearing beliefs have taken many turns in the past 60 years, creating ample grounds for disagreement between caregivers, whether they’re tradition-minded World War II-era grandparents, hovering baby boomers or the family-focused, informal moms and dads of Generation X. Other parents wrestle with how to divvy up authority or whether to pay grandparents for their help The problem-solving and peacekeeping strategies families must use to make these two-generational setups work can make already complicated family relationships even more challenging.
Some forecasters predicted this generation of grandparents would be too self-absorbed to help with child care. But there’s no evidence that today’s grandparents are backing away. The proportion of preschoolers cared for primarily by their grandparents while their mothers work rose to 19.4% in 2005, the latest data available, from 15.9% in 1995, the Census Bureau says. A wave of closings and cutbacks in child-care facilities suggest the trend is continuing.
Some 40% of grandparents who live within an hour’s drive of young grandchildren provide regular child care while their mothers work, says a 2008 survey of 500 grandparents by the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, an Arlington, Va., nonprofit. And grandparents’ child-care hours rise significantly in the summer, the Census Bureau says.
It seems “boomers aren’t as spoiled as we thought,” says Georgia Witkin, assistant professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, and a senior editor for Grandparents.com, a Web site on grandparenting. “It was anticipated that a lot of grandparents might establish separate lives and might resent having those interrupted,” she says. While some have, others “like to feel needed.”