Many of us today are compelled to live together in multi-generational situations that would not have been likely in our parent's generation. Sometimes, different generations of one family living together are a natural and easy adjustment. Other times, families can barely tolerate the additional members and count the days before the new housemates move out.
The New Family Arrangement
Boomerang kids take many different forms. Some BKs have never been independent, and some have done everything right and still find that the condition of homelessness or unemployment is out of their control. Some BKs return with a sense of humility and gratitude with a willingness to contribute and carry their own weight. When a BK returns to the nest with a sense of entitlement, there are problems.
Baby Boomer Parent Moves in With Kids
More and more, we are seeing baby boomers move in with their adult children. If all adults bring to the table a clearly defined role, this can be good for everyone. Hopefully, this means more responsible people are participating in housework, child care, cooking and expenses. Even though the home is a little more crowded, the quality of life is improved, especially for young children and adults who put in long hours at the job. The relationship between baby boomer(s) and in-law spouses is deserving of special respect, effort and tolerance on both sides.
Caring for Elderly Parents and Children
The three or more generation household with one or more people who need constant care and supervision is the most challenging. In this situation, the middle generations are able to share the load.
Survival Tips for Viable Multi-Generational Households
- All adults must know the cost of operating the household, and expenses must be shared in a fair way. If some household members are able to pay more, others should contribute with what is agreed to be an equal value of labor.
- Ideally, all household members have their own areas where others do not have access without permission. A permanent living arrangement can be especially stressful for in-laws. A son-in-law really needs his man cave and a daughter-in-law must have a place where she is autonomous.
- Minor children in multi-generational households suddenly have many parents. Different families have different structures for authority and discipline. Regular communication is important in the form of frequent family meetings or dinner hours where adults and children can discuss these issues in non-threatening environments.
- More adults in a residence mean more adult consumption of things like parking spaces and washing machines. Parents of young children need the freedom to use the machines Saturday morning through Sunday night. Those who have more flexibility and less laundry should stay away from the washer and dryer on weekends. Let the person who treasures his or her car the most park in the garage.
- Physical capabilities cannot be negotiated. Upstairs bedrooms for people who are able to run upstairs easily, the downstairs bedroom is for Granny. Don’t make her share the bathroom if there is an option.
- Step back and let loving relationships develop. When the dog decides Granddad is his best friend, be glad the dog and Granddad have each other.
- Be aware of voice tones and volume. A clear and understandable tone to some is anger to others.
- Compromise and flexibility are vital to a harmonious home. Know the difference between standing up to an issue and holding your ground. The dozens of shoes that are a tripping hazard by the front door can be contained by a basket and not so much dirt will be tracked in the house.
Many families are discovering that multi-generational housing promises lower levels of financial stress, less work because of shared chores and more care and supervision for children and the elderly. Aside from all of the practical aspects to these unique living situations, they also create the opportunity for buidling or renewing bonds between the generations.
Are you living in a similar situation to one above? What ways have you found to cope, or better yet, thrive as a family? Comment below.