Meeting the needs of newly-minted grandparents is exhausting, particular as the year comes to a close. When new parents bring a baby into the world the logistical realities of holiday travel become a tremendous burden because too many Boomers make unreasonable demands on their children’s time and money. They requiring new babies to be packed up and delivered over rivers and through woods to grandmother’s house. But given the difficulty and expense of raising a baby in the America that the Boomers built, new parents should start staying put. It’s time for a new paradigm. If grandparents want to see their grandchildren, they’ll have to do the traveling.
There are some good reasons for the burden of travel to shift to the grandparents. For one, they likely live farther away from their children than they once did. While Millenials are moving to cities to chase employment, the Boomers are flocking to low-cost communities outside of cities where they can buy inexpensive housing and enjoy a low cost of living. That not only creates more distance between grandparents and new families, it also means that the younger generation has less money to put into travel.
Living in a city means higher prices for everything, including rent, food, and childcare. The expense of travel can be a tremendous strain. In the best circumstances, a family will need to put a hundred dollars into a tank of gas for a day of driving. More likely, however, getting to grandmas house will require plane travel. After all, according to a 2018 AARP survey 52 percent of grandparents said they lived over 200 miles from their grandchildren. Covering that distance requires airfare and those plane tickets can cost upwards of a grand for a family of three. If you’re already hustling to live in a city, it’s unlikely you’ll have the cash you need to fly out of it for Thanksgiving.
That’s not to mention the fact that flying with a kid is a damn nightmare. There’s a certain brutal arrogance in demanding that two grown-ass adults upend their carefully crafted schedule to bundle up a helpless baby and board a metal tube filled with pathogens. And the prospects do not get better the older the baby gets. Add additional kids and not only does air travel become more expensive, but it also becomes far more inconvenient.
It makes far more sense for grandparents to do the flying. It’s less hassle for them. There is less pressure from their fellow passengers and it’s more likely that they can afford the ticket.
Driving isn’t much of a better option. Yes, road trips are a bit less pressure on parents and the price of gas is less than the price of an airplane ticket, but it’s also dangerous. According to government data, motor vehicle accidents were the leading cause of death for children aged 1 to 14. In fact, more than 2,000 children die in car crashes every year. Going to grandmother’s house could be deadly.
All of this isn’t meant to discount the importance of grandparents. Children can really benefit from having older generations around as they develop. When kids grow up with grandparents they are more likely to develop empathy and less likely to be ageist.
But kids, and particularly babies, thrive on routine. Travel to grandparents throws that routine off in significant ways. Suddenly, a baby who might have been sleeping and eating normally is completely thrown off their game. It can take weeks for parents to renew the routine once they’ve come home.
The world has changed and so has parenting. We know more now about raising kids than we once did. By demanding that families derail their lives for holiday travel, Boomer grandparents are being selfish and disruptive. And ignorance isn’t an excuse.
So as the holidays approach, it’s time for new moms and dads to stand their ground. It’s better for them and their baby if they stay put. Grandparents can bring themselves to their grandchildren and make life easier for everyone.