Thursday, February 2, 2012

Multigenerational Families Living Together Again

In the past, many generations
lived under one roof!
Historically, it was not unusual for three, four or even five generations of one family to live together under the same roof.  However, during the Twentieth Century this became less and less common.  Instead, young couples began to leave their parents' homes and moved to their own houses, often in other cities or states.  As the Twentieth Century progressed, the "nuclear" family became the norm.  In most households, it was rare for there to be more than two generations in residence ... typically a couple and their children.  Usually, when the children grew up and moved out on their own, the parents continued to live in their own home.  This is the exactly the path that life has taken for my husband and me, as well as our grown children.

Multi-Generational Families are Becoming More Common

There are several reasons why this has begun to change again.  Ethnic groups who move here from other countries want multiple generations to live in the same home. The recent recession has caused many young adults to continue to live with their parents.  Baby Boomers who were not well-prepared for retirement or who lost their savings in the stock market, have sometimes been forced to move in with their adult children.

According to a report on ABC News, there are now over 51 million Americans who are living in households with more than two generations.  Since there are approximately 307,000,000 residents of the United States, this means that about one in six people are now living in multi-generational homes, which means at least three generations are living together.  Now that this has become so common again, ABC also had some suggestions for making this lifestyle work.

How to Get Along in a Multi-Generational Living Situation

First, every generation needs their own private space.  In their news story, they showed examples of families that had added onto their homes to accommodate the new family members.  In other cases, families had fixed up basement areas, or cordoned off sections of the home to create small "mother-in-law" apartments.

In addition, they suggested that everyone have clearly defined roles and responsibilities in the family unit.  Rather than everyone trying to do the same things, the family needs to decide who is responsible for the yard work, the cooking, the dishes, the laundry, the childcare, etc.  Then, there is less duplication of effort, as well as less competition, criticism and confusion.

The upside of this arrangement is that many of the family members who were interviewed said that they felt the new family arrangement not only saved them money, but also brought the family closer.

Is Multi-Generational Living Right for Everyone?

However, I recognize that this living arrangement is not for everyone.  Although we have four daughters who lived with us for a period of time spanning more than two decades, we now enjoy having our own residence.  At the same time, we look forward to seeing our grandkids frequently.  In fact, we see two of them at least once or twice a week.  Although we have no plans to change our current living situation, I believe it would be possible for my husband and I to live with one of our daughters if we had to ... as long as we had our own private space and followed the other suggestions listed above.  Because of that, I thought others might also benefit from some helpful guidelines about how to make a multi generational family work!

If you are interested in reading other helpful articles for Baby Boomers, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles about where to retire, changing family relationships, medical concerns, financial planning and more.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

photo compliments of morguefile.com

5 comments:

  1. This is fascinating. In the past I've viewed multi generational living arrangements as something done mostly by struggling immigrants. When I was growing up my hometown had a large number of people who came from the Azore islands. They would work hard, buy a home and share it with each other. We see that today in CA with people from Hispanic and Asian cultures. It's very interesting that it's now happening to natural American citizens.

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  2. I have a 3 generation household. My partner and I actually bought a house with her daughter. She has a physically separate garage apartment, with her 2 kids. It works well as mother and daughter are very close, seeing each other every day. The children benefit from more adult contact and stimulation.
    I do agree that totally separate spaces work best.

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    1. Thank you for sharing, Phil. I see that multi-generational living is becoming popular in other countries besides the United States. I love the fact that your partner's daughter has her own space, yet your partner can see her grandchildren regularly. It sounds like it works well.

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  3. We are a multigenerational family living with and invited by my youngest daughter when she bought her first house. We all get along great though my oldest daughter and husband would like a little more privacy, but ultimately happy with the arrangement. Our house is 4 bedrooms so everyone has their own space except I share a room with my little Grandbaby because I asked to. We have a total of 5 adults, special needs 5 year old and pets. One big happy family!

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    1. Thank you for sharing this story of how you live in a three generation household. I'm so happy to hear good stories about how well it is working! Good for you and your daughters!

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