Natural cycle on its head
Published 05/12/2012 | 05:00
THIS is not how it is supposed to be.
In the normal course of events it is adult children who are supposed to be responsible for their ageing and elderly parents.
The torch is supposed to be passed from one generation to the next in, or around, retirement age, or when grown up children begin to make their own way in the world.
But this recession (such an underwhelming word for such an overwhelming economic crash) has turned a lot of norms on their heads.
According to a new academic study, large numbers of older people are handing over money to their adult children and their grandchildren as the recession grinds down household incomes.
In some cases the pensioners are being so generous to their heavily mortgaged children that they have little left for themselves.
The NUI Galway study found that it was now far more common for pensioners to be helping their adult children than for the younger people to be financially aiding their aged parents.
High mortgage repayments, declining incomes from tax hikes and pay cuts and unemployment mean that many families with young children are being bailed out by their parents.
When people reach retirement age they should be able to take it that bit easier.
But it is very hard to refuse your offspring, or indeed your grandchildren, in their time of dire need.
Each generation is raised to expect that the next generation will do that bit better. We seemed to have taken it for granted that success breeds success.
That cycle has, at the very least, been interrupted. Let's hope it is a temporary blip.