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More Grandparents Helping Out

Financial support to adult children and grandchildren called unprecedented

According to the poll, grandparents not only gave financial assistance, but also helped their grown kids with caregiving. More than 60 percent of those surveyed said they were taking care of their grandkids on a regular basis. And 13 percent called themselves primary caregivers.

That may not be unexpected, given that the number of households with multiple generations living under one roof has increased by 25 percent this decade, according to an AARP analysis of U.S. Census data.

About 6.6 million children live in a household that includes a grandparent. And an estimated 1.5 million children live with a grandparent and not their own parent, census data show.

In March, theAARP Bulletin conducted a poll examining how the economy has affected the living conditions of people age 50-plus. More than one in 10 said they live with their grandchildren or their parents. When asked what would drive parents and children to move in together or with a friend, if they hadn’t already, 34 percent cited loss of income.

Janet Peele, 58, was living alone until hard times fell on her daughter and son-in-law, Kara and Damon Mayer. They moved into Peele’s home in Bellevue, Wash., with their three children when Damon’s painting business dried up. Now Peele can’t imagine living without her grandchildren, who range in age from 6 to 14.

“We sit around and watch TV or play a game, and more often than not they crawl into my bed,” she said. “I don’t think my grandkids or I could handle living without each other.”

Tips for parents of boomerang kids

Experts offered these tips for parents when adult children move back home:

  • Discuss shared living costs such as who will pay for food, rent, computer use and other expenses. Talk about how each of you expects life to change, including what you’re excited about and what you fear.
  • If you’re helping with child care, establish how much time you will spend baby-sitting your grandchildren. Who will be responsible for cooking and grocery shopping? Talk about these issues openly to head off any conflict.
  • Make the rules but allow your children to have input.
  • Let your kids discipline their children without interference from you, a difficult but necessary rule in building a peaceful environment.
  • Share stories, look at photos, research family history and record this information on audiotape or in a video. Treasure your time together.

Carole Fleck is a senior editor at AARP Bulletin Today.

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