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Shifting norms: A spike in skipped-generation households

By Diya Boyapati Nov. 13, 2022

Kenneth Yang Art

Whether the goal is to maintain close family bonds or avoid paying high rent prices for a regular apartment, many children choose to continue living with their parents throughout college and beyond. However, as demographics and socioeconomic trends shift, some young adults are opting to move in with their grandparents instead.

The term “skipped-generation households” refers to the growing trend of young adults living solely with their grandparents, with the absence of a middle generation. The New York Times explains that because there are no traditional parental demands or expectations, grandkids and grandparents can form stronger bonds and communicate with each other as mature adults, rather than a strict grandparent and a young grandchild. Dr. Gail Saltz, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the Weill Cornell Medical Center, elaborates that the grandparent-grandchild relationship dynamic differs from the parent-child one because it is difficult for parents to forgo their parenting responsibilities.


“If I had to choose between moving in with my parents or grandparents as a young adult, I would pick the latter option. My grandparents are more relaxed, and living with them would offer me greater freedom and flexibility as opposed to living with my parents,” Sophomore Shota Yu said.

Young adults choose to live with their grandparents for a myriad of other reasons. Both grandparents and grandchildren have unique demands. As per The New York Times, the grandchildren are looking for affordable housing while they are still in school or working low-paying entry-level jobs. Meanwhile, grandparents—who are older and often dealing with isolation and health challenges—might be looking for company, help with technology and assistance with transportation and paying the rent. With their grandchildren present, grandparents have greater assurance in the case of any emergencies. For example, singer and actor Adam Kantor landed his first job on Broadway during his last year of college. Coincidentally, his grandparents bought a sublet in Manhattan with an extra room. He only intended it to be a brief stay, but after his grandfather's death in 2013, Kantor chose to continue living with his grandmother to keep her company; he takes to the theater and accompanies her on walks in Central Park.


“This is similar to people moving in with multiple roommates to lower the cost of living. However, this living arrangement is more of a brief period of time for many young adults; as they earn more money, they will eventually move into their own house,” Junior Anika Pai said.

This spike in skipped-generation households can partly be attributed to the pandemic. As the economy experienced decreases in output and housing prices increased drastically, it became more difficult for young adults to sustain themselves. Waves of young Americans returned home after the pandemic began; according to research conducted by real estate marketplace Zillow, in March and April of 2020, nearly 2.7 million adults in the United States moved back in with a parent or grandparent.


Outside of the benefits of living in skipped-generation households, many grandparents move in with their children out of necessity. In the online publication Live About, author Susan Adcox—whose writing focuses on grandparenting, explains that some grandparents become their children’s main caregivers due to various factors including divorced parents, incarcerated parents, alcohol or substance abuse or teen pregnancy.


Due to the mutually beneficial relationship between grandparent and grandchild within the household, young adults may continue to live in skipped-generation households as a means of maintaining financial stability and forming deeper connections with their grandparents.

 

About the Contributors

Diya Boyapati

Media team


Diya Boyapati is a sophomore at Leland High school and is part of the media team. During her free time she likes to play basketball, badminton, and enjoys spending time with her friends.







Tianshu Yang

Artist


Kenneth Yang is a senior at Leland High School and he is going to be an artist for The Charger Account. During his free time, he enjoys sleeping, eating, and exercising.

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