All In The Family

I briefly considered entitling this post, “And You Think You’ve Got Trouble?” It was inspired by a report about the legal difficulty and potential danger of attempting to evict “ghost children” from your home. The term “ghost children” refers to adults who “haunt” their parent by being present in the home, but not truly engaging in the family relationship. Thinking more I recalled how my grandparents home, though pretty crowded, was an important bridge for my parents in their early childrearing years – when three families representing two generations shared my grandparents’ two bedroom-one bathroom second floor apartment! And the critical roles my brother and I played in our parents’ final years. Select the highlighted link to read insights gleaned from further research into the trends in intergenerational housing in America today and the associated benefits when it works well.

Communication is a Multi-Lane Highway in a Shared Household

Advantages of Intergenerational Living to Strive For

  1. Sharing economic responsibilities
    One of the major benefits and reasons why families move in together is that it is often a more affordable option and can reduce the family’s money strain. Adult children often move back in with their parents as they start off their careers or to help them save money to buy their own home. Willing and healthy grandparents can also help take care of young grandchildren during the day, which can save the family a significant amount on childcare costs.
  2. Child care support
    Multi-parenting by various adult family members not only saves on childcare and takes some of the load off working parents, it encourages grandparents and children to spend time together and add value to each other’s lives. Children have the advantage of growing up with multiple family members and also to learn about caring for their elders, while grandparents remain productive and active while they keep up with the children’s activities and school work.
  3. Adult care giving
    Many families find it much easier and simpler to care for and support elderly, disabled or sick adult family members when they live in the same home. This way, the household can share the care responsibilities, establish better routines with the family members who need care and be able to notice any changes in their health or situation much quicker.
  4. Building strong family bonds
    Multigenerational families who share a home often experience emotional bonding throughout all the generations, which they may not be able to achieve if they live further apart. Extended family living naturally encourages family members to spend their free time together and witness each other’s daily lives.
  5. A close support structure
    In an extended family household the adults can share their worries, stresses and responsibilities with other family members like their parents, who genuinely care for their wellbeing. This often forms a close family support structure which in turn reduces individual stress and promotes happiness.
  6. Family culture and traditions
    The need to cultivate and carry on family cultures and traditions throughout different generations is often very important to families, such as ex-pat families. In an extended family household family members can work together to expose their children and grandchildren to some of the aspects they would experience in their home country, such as language, foods and traditions. But this is not only true for expat families – many non-expat families also find that their children have the opportunity to learn different values and gain a greater understanding of traditions when they live with multiple generations of their family.
  7. Companionship
    Another advantage of extended family living is that family members can frequently spend time with their loved ones. Some family members, especially elderly parents may become lonely and isolated when they live alone, but living closely with family and just knowing that they are nearby usually cures any thoughts of loneliness.