Seniors Living With Seniors

Family can be a big support group through stressful high school times, but what that family network looks like is different for all people. For example, there are a number of T.A. students that live with their grandparents.

“Living with my grandparents has always seemed normal to me. To me, it’s like a normal nuclear family,” senior Jake Lamontagne said. “We still live in a house, we still have a two car garage, we still have a fence in the yard, the only difference is that the people who look after me are much older than my biological parents actually are.”

According to News Maine, like Lamontagne, more than 14,000 children in Maine and 268,000 students nationwide live with their grandparents.

Lamontagne’s mother had Acute Cerebellar Ataxia when she was younger and because of that has mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and he has no contact with his father. He has lived with his grandparents in Saco since age five.

For the most part, this has never felt that unusual to Jake, except he does admit that there is a clear generational gap in regards to technology. For example, he said, “As terrible as it sounds, I have to help them out with tasks we would think would be simple, like putting in the Netflix password,” Lamontagne said. “But besides that, I really don’t think there is a difference. My grandfather is pretty much my father in the scenario and grandmother is pretty much my mother in the scenario and you know they just do stuff normal parents would do.”

Lamontagne says that his favorite memories with his grandparents happen around the holidays.

“No matter how crazy my life’s been, how crazy it has been with my parents, at least I know I have something stable when the holidays come around and I still have people who appreciate me being around them and I appreciate them being around me.”

Senior Tiffany Garland can relate. Tiffany lived with her grandparents for 3 to 4 years, along with her parents.

“I actually really enjoyed living with my grandparents,” Garland said. “We owned like a duplex house, so they were living on one side and my family was living on the other side. My grandmother and I grew really really close and we still are very close and my grandfather and I are pretty close too.”

Garland moved with her parents to Saco from the home they shared with their grandparents in Hiram and her grandparents moved out and now live with her uncle, but Garland will never forget the memories they made while living together.

“It was just cool because when my mom would get home late from work, my grandmother would make super or vice-versa it was just really nice,” Garland said.

“I lived with my daughter and her kids for off and on for about three years and it was a lot of stressed lifted off of her shoulders and mine,” Garland’s grandmother Faith said. “The best part about it all was being able to see my grandkids all the time. I grew closer and closer to them everyday, but the one I grew closest to was Tiffany. When she was little she always loved to wait for me to come home, but I sometimes wouldn’t be home until 2am because I worked the night shift, and she would ask me how my day/night was and we would talk for a little bit and share each other’s day. Now that all of my grandbabies are older it’s hard to see them because they all do their own things, but they all come to see me when they can and they will even stay the night occasionally.”

Garland’s grandparents pose for a photo in their family home.

Thomas Philbrook is another TA senior who has been living with his grandmother his whole life.

“Living with a grandparent feels weird to me even though it’s all I have known. But still, it feels like I’m not the same as some of my peers,” Philbrook said.

Philbrook says he doesn’t know why exactly, but living with his grandmother he believes is a lot different than it would have been if he had grown up with biological parents. He said the generational gap can become a source of tension in an already stressful period of life. For example, she uses up their shared data plan unnecessarily because she doesn’t know how to turn off her cellular data. Like Lamontagne Philbrook is most amazed by the difference technological understanding. Philbrook says his grandma is totally amazed by him when he restarts the router to restart the internet.

For high school students living with their grandparents Lamontagne offers some advice.

“Yeah, at first it’s kinda going to suck, you’re going to wish like what would it be like if I had a normal family. But over time your going to realize that your grandparents, and whatever biological parents you have left, if you have any, they are your family. Sure, it may be different than your best friend but at the same time you still have a loving and supportive environment and you just have to realize that.”

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