With multiple generations living under the same roof, families are changing quickly and dealing with new sources of conflict and friction at home. Wriggling in the Middle welcomed Amy Goyer, AARP’s Family Expert, to talk to us about successful Multigenerational Living. She offered several insightful facts about the changing trends in family living:
- It used to be commonplace for families to have multiple generations in the same house. In 1900, 57% of citizens age 65 or older lived in homes with their children but by 1990 this style of living dropped to 17%
- In the last 10 years, it is trending back towards multiple generations households. From 2000 to 2010, multigenerational households increased from 5 million to 7.1 million, a 42% increase. The vast majority of that growth happened in the last 2 years.
- Some causes of this trend include the poor economy, increasing elderly population, and the younger generation delaying marriage.
It’s an issue that many families are confronting for the first time. Here are two tips help keep everyone at home, new and old and in between, happy:
Plan ahead for family responsibilities and roles
Whether it’s your child or your parents moving into your house, it creates a completely new dynamic for your family. In this case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make sure you plan ahead for this new arrangement: It’s worth your homework and make sure everyone is happy. Assigning chores, figuring out food distribution, and discussing rent area are potential problem points that can be taken care well ahead of time if planned for properly. Financial responsibilities are always sensitive topics and should be addressed before it becomes an issue.
Don’t let problems fester. Handle them as soon as they arise.
Too often families will jump into this new situation without giving it proper consideration and thought. What might seem like something harmless at first, like leaving dishes in the sink or not taking shoes off at the door, can build up and create resentment. Dr. Merle stresses that it is important to handle these issues as they arise, instead of waiting until you can’t stand it any longer. Your family members will be receptive to a gentle reminder, and you will be more stress free for it.
Benefits of Being All Together
There are many challenges to multigenerational living, but with careful planning you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of being together rather than stress about its problems. Once families are in this situation, they tend to enjoy it.
Your family will enjoy strong relationships and the grandparents will be able to be a central character in your child’s life. Take these tips and put them to use, your family will appreciate it.
For more information from AARP’s family expert, visit her website at http://www.aarp.org/relationships/experts/amy_goyer/