NPR has an excellent new series – Family Matters . A recent segment covered young siblings Lauren and Chris supporting their great grandmother Snootzie, Anna Bell Barnes Hilary Clinton’s line it takes a village applies here. To support aging parents it takes entire family, even young siblings. In this piece young Lauren and Chris express their telescopic view into the future. By helping to care for their great grandmother, they have learned what care their parents might need as they age, which are pretty amazing for kids. At the same time the parents talk about being happy their kids got that lesson as in that future they will need help from in their own old age.
My family had the same experience .My aging Dad moved in when my daughter Kali was in eight grade. She helped with his care as did my grandchildren Julia and Joseph. Kali is now a program officer at the Scan Foundation , helping organizations give care for elders all over the country. She got into aging because the aging process was normal in her family- she grew up with it.
But Family Matters go both ways.
Young parents can get help from grandparents by involving extended family to bear the heavy load of parenting. Generation X families need lots and lots of help, like the Martin family does with Snootzie. Young parents especially need support with siblings to avoid sibling rivalry ,so that each child the attention they need.
Parents today have two jobs, maybe even three. The support of older family members like grandparents can be vital to care for siblings, who can chomp at the bit and fight when Mom and Dad are not home after school. Unlike Snootzie, Baby Boomer grandparents are fit and able to help.
When my daughter gave birth to twin siblings,my husband and I moved to LA for two months, doing overnight shifts with 4-pound twin boys. Extended family like grandma’s and grandpa’s can pick up kids after school, ( I do now with a 14 year old grandson) make baby books never created by overburdened parents, drive to sports and even care for grandchildren, when parents just need a vacation
So as the NPR series Family Matters shows. – family is critical to caring- and it’s not just caring for the old/old generation like Snootzie . Grandparents caring for young siblings who need individual attention, can avoid sibling rivalry thus care for both their adult kids and their grandchildren.