December 24, 2012

"The Ultimate Amenity: Grandparents."

A NYT article about highly affluent couples who are spending their copious money to purchase housing for their own parents, so that their immensely privileged children will have the ultimate amenity: grandparents in their daily life.

Published the very next day in the NYT is an article — charting at #1 on the NYT most-emailed list — "For Poor, Leap to College Often Ends in a Hard Fall." ("Melissa, an eighth-grade valedictorian, seethed over her mother’s boyfriends and drinking, and Bianca’s bubbly innocence hid the trauma of her father’s death.") Proposed alternate title: The Ultimate Privation: No parents.

26 comments:

Shouting Thomas said...

My daughter is due (a girl) in June.

She recently extracted a promise from me that I will be available for babysitting. I'm ready for the grandpa thing! We want about a dozen!

In her first trimester, my daughter has already named her baby, and she routinely brings over sonograms to show to me.

Yes, it is a human from conception.

I'm trying to find a part-time work at home job so that I can play music and take care of the granddaughter.

Shouting Thomas said...

Those apartment buildings in Newport, on the Hudson River, in Jersey City are fantastic.

Great view of Manhattan. Every possible amenity. 10 minutes to every place in Manhattan via the Holland Tunnel.

Also, cafes full of pretty Asian women studying their iMacs very seriously.

Great place for girl watching!

pm317 said...

“Close, but not too close,” she said. “The applications are for the parents, but what we’re seeing is that the guarantors on the paperwork are the children.”

Not sure how grandparents should take that.

ST, my parents babysat my niece while both her parents worked. My dad would put her in a stroller and take her to visit all his pals in the monring, a ritual everyday meant for exercise while my mom finished her chores in the kitchen. I was a student living with my parents at that time (that is how it is back home) -- I was the one who saw her take her first steps; her face beamed like she knew she was doing something special. I was beside myself watching it and screamed for my mom to come, look!

edutcher said...

Congrats, Shout.

As for the articles, the people who had designer children are now going for designer grandparents.

And a college education isn't a right. If the kids who have been let down by their parents want it badly enough, there's lots of scholarship money out there.

wyo sis said...

Interesting that it costs so much money to try to duplicate the life that most children had about 70 years ago.

Shouting Thomas said...

By the way, Jersey City is not the place to live if you want to advance your career in NYC.

New Yorkers are very snobby about where you live. The worst possible thing you can do in my old biz, multimedia, is to hand somebody a card with a Jersey City address on it.

Jersey City is cheap compared to the rest of the city, and certain parts of it are quite nice and safe.

If you are young and you have to live in Jersey City, rent one of those PO Boxes in Manhattan so that you can print a Manhattan address on your biz card!

EDH said...

Notice a thread running through the comments by grandparents.

Those who were profiled or are in similar circumstances feel the need to disavow themselves as part of the "hated 1%", before explaining the path of their son's or daughter's two-career family or the budget priority that they place on helping the grandparents be nearby.

Where did that "hate" come from? Who engendered it? The divider in chief, Obama?

How did you make your money? How did you spend it?

It's the new "are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party."

Inga said...

Wonderful concept, and yes Wyo. Sis is right, but instead of the grandparent moving in with the couple, they get their own place.

The article stresses that it's a benefit for the couple to have grandma close but not living with them, it's also beneficial to grandma to have her own space. I most certainly wouldn't want to live with ether of my married children.

I'm thinking very seriously of doing something similar, taking an apartment in Madison, to help out with my newely married daughter (when she has a baby) who will continue working as an attorney and my son in law who is a partner in one of those Madison high tech start up businesses, which continues to do well, but not so well that they don't need both incomes.

Better option than daycare and a nanny. Grandparents typically have the same level of love and affection for a grandchild as they do for their own children. Win/win.

And living in Madison is far less expensive than New York or New Jersey. My house gets to stay empty until weekends and summer, the lake is frozen and the geese take over in winter anyway, bah. My other three grandchildren who live nearby don't need me as much now, plus their mom is lucky enough to be a stay at home mom.

Merry Christmas Althousia! Off to finish my almond chocolate cheesecake.

ironrailsironweights said...

Those apartment buildings in Newport, on the Hudson River, in Jersey City are fantastic.
Also, cafes full of pretty Asian women studying their iMacs very seriously.


Now all the PATH trains to Newport will be filled with introverted Beta males figuring this will be their chance to score.

Peter

ironrailsironweights said...

As is typical for the Times, the article about the three unfortunate young women largely missed the mark. Only one of the three, Angelica, is truly unfortunate, having left college with no degree and high student loan debts. And even she's better-off than a vast number of young people as she has a steady if unremarkable job. Bianca got her community college degree without significant debt, is employed, and can always go back at some time to get a 4-year degree. Melissa (the only one not eligible for affirmative action privileges) went through some tough times but is on track to get her degree, with a relatively manageable debt burden.

It would have been easy to find people who are in much worse shape. For example, law school graduates with $150K in debts and no hopes whatsoever of finding work.

Peter

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Some grandparents are taking care of their grandchildren not out of choice, but out of necessity. Bad parents, drug addicted parents or parents too poor to afford day care and who are working long hours just to keep afloat.

Those older folks thought that they were going to be retired and find themselves in the position of acting as full time parents. They are tired, both physically and mentally. I feel very sorry for everyone involved and hope that the grandchildren are benefiting.

Others like those in the article are lucky enough to be able to help their children and share the joy of parenting/grandparenting. It USED to be the norm for parents to live closer to their children, in the same town, or for there to be multi generational homes. It was a very beneficial arrangement for everyone. Today, we write amazed articles about what used to be common.

I DO wish that I were closer to my grandchild so that I could help out and be able to spend more time with him. I would love that. But....alas...they live too far away.

traditionalguy said...

Live in grand parents smells more to me like cheap servants from The King and I and The Sound of Music but too old to escape and remarry.

Joe said...

Being a grandfather has reminded me that raising children is for the young. I adore my almost four-year-old granddaughter, but find that more than a day is trying, especially if she is one of her hyper moods (which for my granddaughter is super hyper--far more than even her mother was at that age.)

I've also learned that My Little Pony is one of the least irritating kid's shows.

The Elder said...

Life offers no greater role to play than that of a grandparent. All four of ours are here right now and the bedlam is . . . magnificent! We are watching the classic Disney movies all over again.

We were hoping to share them with a certain grandchildless couple, but things didn't work out this year. Hope they visit soon.

ricpic said...

Interesting that it costs so much money to try to duplicate the life that most children had about seventy years ago.

Debtors want inflation and the biggest debtor of all is the state. Chronic inflation has essentially killed any chance at the nuclear family provided for by the father at all levels save the upper-middle (and even that's iffy) and upper classes. The world I grew up in in which my window washer uncle (and millions like him) was the sole support of a stay at home wife and two kids -- that's over. Thanks big time compassionate statists, in both parties.

Libertarian Engineer said...

Sending a kid that grew up on the wrong side of the tracks to Emory is begging for failure. A grossly overpriced university where she is way over her head economically, social class-wise, and soon enough, debt-wise is silly. Sam Houston State is two hours from Galveston, is much less expensive, and people of her social standing attend there.

Libertarian Engineer said...

The folks who told this young lady that Emory was a Good Idea should be left holding the bag for her debt. Not her and the taxpayers. I'd say she's a victim of predatory lending and fraudulent academic counseling. I see no reason why she should not have a pretty good civil suit - in a sane world.

somefeller said...

So these young parents are spending money on their families and in the case of those buying property rather than renting, getting an asset (assuming they aren't in heavy debt). Good for them.

And Libertarian Engineer has a point. The young woman who went to Emory should have gone to one of Texas's many fine state universities. The prices would be much lower and the mismatch problem wouldn't have been as pronounced. Emory is a great school, but not worth six figures of debt for someone without the means to wipe out that debt quickly. But I don't think lawsuits are in order.

somefeller said...

These two articles both show how and why members of the affluent/upper middle class are able to maintain their position on the social and economic ladder, for reasons that are not nefarious and are not amenable to change by any political program. Belmont and Fishtown, and the way the world is.

Phil 3:14 said...

I will now remind my daughter how wealthy she is.

Libertarian Engineer said...

I am not an advocate for lawsuits normally; most are frivolous or nothing more than a legal war on common sense. Witness that half the cost of a ladder is 50% liability insurance.

In this particular case, a carefully constructed suit might help change the spiral of easy money and ever-increasing tuition.

And: This is not an attack on The Blonde and her profession; academics and lawyers most definitely have a place and a vital role. Most all the tuition increases do not go to actual professors, but to the ever-increasing ranks of the administrators who typically outnumber and out-earn the actual teachers. Of course, the administrators control the flow of money and naturally take their cut as the stream flows by.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

The family is the first level of social organization. By virtue of biological and physical proximity, it also exhibits greater accountability than other levels of society, with measurably superior outcomes.

Shouting Thomas:

The only reasonable argument which can be made is to distinguish between biological and conscious conception. However, from biological conception, the fertilized cell will -- without natural or premeditated intervention -- develop into what is recognizable as human, and its development will proceed until death.

It's really not that complicated. The value we ascribe to human life is exclusively determined by individual morality; but, it is reinforced or diffused through cultural norms. There is no moral standing to commit murder in order to mitigate the consequences which follow from a voluntary behavior. There is no moral standing to reject responsibility for the life conceived from a voluntary behavior.

Congratulations for the coming birth of your granddaughter. May she and her mother enjoy an uneventful pregnancy.

As for the grandfather role, have fun, enjoy the moment, and take good care of your granddaughter.

ALP said...

My sister is a professor in the CA state school system. Most of her students are of Mexican/South of the Border ancestry. Over the holidays, I had occasion to peek at some of the writing she was grading.

The students in question were taking 300 and 400 level sociology classes. The writing, at that level, was deplorable. Over half way through a 4 year program, and students STILL can't write coherently? There is something sorely wrong with a system of higher learning when, half way through, language skills are still so poor. Why are they in such a system to begin with? Why are people from impoverished backgrounds encouraged to major in such useless majors such as sociology? What a scam - makes me almost embarrassed to admit I have a professor in the family - the system appears utterly corrupt.

Douglas said...

In China, there is no social security system. Instead there are grandparents.

Typically when the (only) son marries, his parents sell everything and buy him an apartment or house (you can't marry without a house). Then one or both parents move in and baby sit when the baby is born (which is typically a year or so after the wedding).

The sons parents have first dibs, but if they don't want it, the daughter's parents move in.

Is this hard on wives, having their mother-in-law live with them, typically in very small (by American standards) living quarters? Yes. Even with all the housework and childcare provided by the mother-in-law, it's hard.

Is this great for kids? Yes! They grow up with their grandparents and grandparents, as you all know, are the BEST.