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January 2012 / Bronx/​Riverdale Family / Brooklyn Family / Long Island Family / Manhattan Family / Queens Family / Staten Island Family / Columnists / Letter from the Publisher

A parent for always

Someone recently remarked to me that when they think of parents, they think of someone with little kids, not pre-teens, or teens, or young adults. I disagree. I think being a parent is for always, and in fact, gets more challenging and often more interesting as the years go by.

Sometimes there is role reversal and that’s a part of it too. When one is very old the roles can shift and the caregiver of yesterday is the now the needy recipient of today’s loving care. I’ve been thinking a lot about the economics of our time and the reemergence, often due to necessity, of the multi-generational houses; something more reminiscent of the 40’s or 50’s than more recent decades.

Society now experiences the dilemma of young people, fresh out of college, heavily loaded with student loan debt and no jobs to be had. Many are opting to live at home with parents rather than take on extra burdens of household overhead. Many have no choice. The jobs they trained for aren’t hiring and the jobs they can get are not paying enough to support independent living.

Then there is the phenomenon of even older adults, mature aged men and women who have lost their jobs, homes and self-esteem, who are moving in with very aged and mature parents who probably thought their days of living with their kids were far behind them. It’s a new phenomenon, or rather, an old one. Kids used to stay at home until they got married and even then, in many cultures, after being married, still went on living with other members of an extended family, maybe bachelor uncles, or unmarried aunties, and in-laws.

I grew up with a large extended family all living together. For me, it was normal, and mine was not the only house like that. There were many others. This was when marriage came earlier in the life cycle than it does now and was prior to the welcome liberation of women and women’s rights to equal education and equal job opportunities, all of which has largely changed the landscape.

I’m happy my daughter is still at home living with me. There are times I’m not happy, but for the most part, I cherish the days she is still there close by for me to enjoy, observe, and experience. This morning, I went to her room to see if she was awake, and she looked just like the little girl she used to be. She yawned and that yawn was the same yawn that newborn baby had 20 years ago. We change, but we are always the same. We are always ourselves, and our children are always our children no matter how tall they get, or how powerful. The responsibility and joy is always there.

Thanks for reading. Happy New Year!

Susan Weiss-Voskidis, Publisher

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