Choosing to be multi-generational
Here is a picture of my husband, my daughter and myself in February of 2017.
Now here is a picture of my husband and our 2 kids, my sister and my parents last month (Feb 2018) when the EAGLES won the Superbowl.
Many millennials and baby boomers in the United States are choosing to live in multi-generational households. Multi-generational homes are 28% Asian house holds and 25% Hispanic households, yet other American households are catching on to the fun that is multi-generational living. Of course, for some this is due to their economic decisions, however for others, it is more emotional.
For my family, my husband and I were living 1200 miles away from my parents. When they got a job opportunity that would put them within 50 miles of us, we jumped at the chance for them to come and live with us. You see, my parents came to this country as children, leaving grandparents behind in Latin America. Since they missed out on growing up with the experience of having grandparents on hand, they wanted to be present in their grand babies’ lives. Since they are both great examples of loving human beings, we asked them to live with us. Now I know they could just buy the house 5 doors down if they wanted to, but living in one house offers other benefits.
What else does that mean for us?
- Sharing skill sets. My father is great with cars, electronics, and household projects. My husband is a bodybuilder and a personal trainer. Because we live together, they can seamlessly trade knowledge.
- My parents get to know my children. In other countries, children are encouraged to spend time with grandparents. They learn to foster a respect for knowledge that was earned through a life well lived.
- The children also get to see how 2 different marriages at work. My parents have had the blessing of being together for 35 years. My husband and I have been together for 4 years. There is wisdom attained in each stage. And since some things are “caught not taught”, I’m glad my parents, and myself and my husband can be 2 different, yet healthy, models of what that means to my children.
- Economics. With grandparents living-in, all home costs are shared. That benefits everyone.
- Parenting support. While my husband and I are the one who feeds, clothes and bathes my kids, its nice to have cheerleaders literally in our living room when those tough moments arise. Because sometimes you really do need to hear that you did the right thing by making your girl go to bed without dessert.
When it won’t work
Now there are situations where multi-generational living won’t work. Because the well-fare of one’s children is at stake, my husband advise against this living situation in the following cases:
- If one of the grandparents is unstable, or dwelling in alcohol or substance abuse. We’ve known couples whose family members have a known issue and chose not to seek help, we suggest not living with them in this case.
- If one of the grandparents is disrespectful of your religious beliefs or parenting philosophy. Differences in religion and parenting style are common in families, but if you want to raise your child with certain values, the grandparents can’t be housemates if they are going to be mockers of you or your family. Same goes with parenting theories. If you want to be a 1-2-3 parent, the grandparents have to be on-board with that.
- If one of the grandparents has a history of abuse with your or your spouse. I believe that forgiveness abounds, but as ugly as it sounds, if you or your spouse were abused by your or their parents, they just shouldn’t be your housemate. You’re raising children after all, and their home should be their place of safety, not a predator’s next binge.
What can it mean for you?
If you wanted to have your parents or your in-laws come under your roof, it can mean a joyous home life for everyone involved! I would suggest the following:
- Plan it out: A lot of things in life fail for lack of planning. When we decided to make this living situation permanent, we had to decide how household chores, and utilities would be split up. Even decide if you’ll take vacations as a tribe or separately. For us, at this stage of life, my husband and I take our kids on vacation without my parents, although we are saving up for a trip all together when my daughter turns 13.
- Don’t take each other for granted: If you’re parents or in-laws are going to be living under your roof, don’t assume you have a built-in-babysitter. If you and your husband are going to go out for the evening, extend the grandparents the curtesy of asking if they are available for childcare.
- Never eat the last steak: Mommas, I am so guilty of this! My mom loves to cook and usually cooks two nights a week. Leftovers in the fridge are up for grabs. Sometimes my Mom makes a special meal for my Dad. Unknowingly I’ve come home from a playdate ravenous and eaten it leaving my Dad nothing but rice from three days ago. So our house rule is never be the one to eat the last of something. In other words: think of others needs too.
There you have it, my tips for multi-generational living. Are you a multi-generational household? Why? Would that be fun for you or a nightmare? Let me know in the comments!