Still staying with mom and dad

2010-12-05 15:29

More and more adult children are joining the “Sandwich Generation”, squeezed between supporting their ageing parents and their own children.

In South Africa as many as 23% of working people in metropolitan areas belong to this generation, where they either live with their parents or their parents live with them, according to a survey by Old Mutual Savings Monitor.

In most instances, they generate the only income in the household and have to support their parents financially while bringing up their own children.

Palesa Sejake (29) from Soweto works for a travel agency in ­Johannesburg. She had a job offer in Kempton Park and sold her house to move there, but the job never materialised.

As she was raising a four-year-old daughter, she moved back to her parents’ home.

It was supposed to be for only a few months until she got back onto her feet, but a year has already passed.

“I’m looking to buy a new house, but I can hardly save.

I do feel stuck because I’m also supporting my daughter.

“It is frustrating, because parents are still overprotective and treat you as a child,” she says.

The survey found that 45% of those between the ages of 25 and 34 still live with their parents, while 69% of South Africans ­between the ages of 18 and 24 live at home.

Anton Senekal, a professor of ­sociology at the ­University of ­Johannesburg, explains that the Sandwich Generation is faced with many additional roles that lead to ­emotional, financial and social burdens.

“They are the thin spread of ­butter between the two slices of bread that keeps the new family structure together.”

He says this trend shows that ­society might be moving back to family structures similar to those in ­pre-industrial revolution times.

Then the expanded family consisted of adult children marrying and having babies while still living with their parents.

These families lived and worked in the same place, mostly living from the land.

However, with industrialisation, work shifted to factories and workplaces outside the family structure which led the adult children to move away from their parents and form a new nuclear family.

Responsibilities in the pre-industrial family to homeschool the young and care for the elderly and sick have in modern times been “outsourced” to schools, hospitals and retirement homes.

“What we see now is the core family again taking some of these responsibilities back, such as homeschooling their children’’ said Senekal.

He predicts that society is again on the verge of the changing family structure that might end up being something between the original expanded family and the current core family.


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