Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
By MARK PENN with E. KINNEY ZALESNE
From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
Published September 16, 2009

Grandparents are stepping up, and the American family may never be the same.

A few years ago, a key microtrend was the Working Retired — aging Americans who were so enjoying work and health that they either wouldn’t retire or were starting second careers altogether. One incidental effect was that grandparents weren’t around to help their adult children with the kids — putting a squeeze on those younger families, and giving a boost to daycare and nannies. New helicopter parents were increasingly reluctant to call upon their parents, and when they did their parents were often too busy or preoccupied.

But now all that’s turning around with a new countertrend. While many are still working later and later, others are sharing the new family burdens of the economic crisis. With unemployment at nearly 10%, and layoffs increasing for both the young and the old, the terrain of intrafamily dynamics is shifting again. And while more togetherness can be complicated for many families, one group that’s coming out on top is the grandkids.

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