The Sandwich Generation

March 26, 2020

 

The Sandwich Generation.  Have you heard of them?  It's not people who love sandwiches at Subway.   

 

So who are the members of the "Sandwich Generation?"

 

They are people who are in the middle of caring for a younger generation (their kids) and an older generation (their parents) at the same time.  They are sandwiched in between these generations, hence they have been tagged as the "sandwich generation."

 

Usually it is those who have a living parent age 65 or older, while also raising a child under the age of 18 or helping support a grown child.  71% of this group are ages 40 to 59.  10% are younger than 40 and 10% are age 60 or older.

 

Married adults are more likely to be sandwiched between their parents and their children.  36% of those married fall into the sandwich generation.  Only 13% of adults who are not married are part of the sandwich group.  75% of adult children say they have a responsibility to provide assistance to an elderly parent in need.

 

This is the situation many Millennials find themselves in.  In fact, 18% of Millennials who were surveyed said they are delaying their plans to have children or have fewer children in anticipation of the care taking role of their aging family members.  An estimated 6.2 million millennials currently provide care for a parent, parent-in-law or grandparent, according to a 2018 AARP Public Policy Report.

 

But primarily, the sandwich generation is made up of Boomers and Gen Xers.  42% of Gen Xers have parents age 65 or older and a dependent child, compared with 33% of Boomers having older parents to care for.  The sandwich generation is primarily made up of middle-aged adults.

 

Interesting enough, a survey from Pew Research, reveals that the public places more value on supporting an aging parent than in helping support a grown child.  75% of adults say they have a responsibility to provide for an elderly parent who is in need.  50% says parents have a similar responsibility to support a grown child.

 

Being a multi-generational household can be stressful.  Most would say they are very busy and are often pressed for time.  They say they always feel rushed even to do the things they have to do.

 

It can also be a financial stress.  Among those who are financially helping both their children and their parents, here is their financial situation. 

 

  • 28% say they live comfortably.

 

  • 30% say they have enough to meet their basic expenses with a little left over for extras.

 

  •  30% say they are just able to meet their basic expenses.

 

  • 11% say they don't have enough to meet even basic expenses.

 

  • 52% say parents have a responsibility to provide financial assistance to a grown child when needed.  In the past year, 30% of sandwich parents have given financial support to a grown child.

 

In addition to helping their parents financially, the sandwich generation also provides care and emotional support for their parents. 84% of those in the sandwich generation says their parents turn to them for emotional support some of the time.  

 

Another factor to consider is the toll this can have on marriages.  The stress of caring for children and parents can lead to relationship issues.  25% of the "sandwich generation" says they have made sacrifices in their romantic relationships.

 

On the flip side, one positive trend out of this is the relationship growth it can cause among family members  It provides adult children the opportunity to work through any differences they may have had over the years with their parents. 

 

For those who are involved in family ministry, it is important to keep these trends in mind.  The number of multi-generational families in this situation is going to increase in the next 20 years.

 

Move than ever, the church must be committed to multi-generational ministry and think of ways they can partner with families who are part of this growing trend.

 

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