Our latest Christopher News Note topic was suggested by many of our supporters who believe that connecting the younger generation with their elders is of vital importance to our culture and society. Here’s a snippet:
Think back to your childhood. Did you have a grandparent who played an important role in your life? Perhaps your grandmother read you stories or taught you how to knit, or maybe your grandfather took you fishing or showed you how to use a compass. In days gone by, grandparents were simply part of daily life for most American families. They often lived next door or just across town. They came to dinner on a regular basis, maybe even on vacation during the summer. They were appreciated and recognized for the wisdom they brought to the lives of their children and grandchildren
Today’s society paints a very different picture. With retirement age creeping ever upward and families spread out across the country, the intergenerational connection is weakening in many places, to the detriment of society as a whole and families in particular. Some children hardly know their grandparents, or see them only once a year. Others have no connection to older adults at all, robbing them of the opportunity to bond with those who have so much to share, from family history and sage advice, to increasingly hard-to-find memories of our country and our world.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are signs that an increasing number of families are living in multigenerational homes, where grandparents have come to live—often due to health or economic reasons—long before little ones have left the nest. And while these families get the added benefit of cross-generational bonding, they also experience added stress on what has come to be known as the “sandwich generation,” those adults who are caring for children and parents at the same time. A recent study by the Pew Research Center shows that one in five adults, age 65 and older, now live in a multigenerational home. And the numbers keep growing.
“What the numbers don’t show is what a blessing it can be for younger generations to have a senior family member living with them,” says Bill Dodds, a writer who specializes in intergenerational issues.