Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture.
My girls are lucky to live only half a mile from my parents; my parents actually moved to be nearer to us after my second daughter was born, and their intention was clear—to downsize from their pre-grandparent life and spend as much time as possible with their granddaughters. The situation works beautifully for everyone involved: high-quality occasional babysitting so my husband and I get regular dates, and the joyful bonding between my daughters and my parents. And while it’s not an issue yet, I can certainly see a future where I’m thankful that my parents live nearby because my daughters and I will be caring for them. Given my age, my children’s age, and my parents’ ages, I’m likely to be part of what’s called “the sandwich generation.”
This sandwiching is only one of the many issues discusses in her article “How Older Parenthood Will Upend American Society”. She writes:
But the experience of being an older parent also has its emotional disadvantages. For one thing, as soon as we procrastinators manage to have kids, we also become members of the “sandwich generation.” That is, we’re caught between our toddlers tugging on one hand and our parents talking on the phone in the other, giving us the latest updates on their ailments. Grandparents well into their senescence provide less of the support younger grandparents offer—the babysitting, the spoiling, the special bonds between children and their elders through which family traditions are passed.
Delaying parenthood offers positive consequences, like greater stability for children and higher levels of income and education, as well as more stable marriages for parents. But there is a host of uncertain variables with older parenthood though, in terms of health, economics, and social-well being.
Shulevitz’s article manifests this divide, and its attendant uncertainty, in medical, financial, and social terms. As Christians, it is imperative to consider, for our own families, our communities, and our world, what it means to live and care as neighbors within “the sandwich generation.”