Multiple Generations Living Under One Roof

In many places around the globe, it has always been common for more than one generation of a family to live together in one home. In recent years, the United States has seen a rise in multigenerational households. Today, many extended families share the same address. This usually means that three generations… adult children, children, and grandparents… reside under the same roof.

Such a high level of family togetherness has its share of benefits and drawbacks. Whether you’re considering multigenerational living or already living with your extended family, here are a few tips that may be helpful in ensuring the best possible experience for everyone.

A few tips for living with extended family…

  • Keep the lines of communication open and flowing. Have regular conversations about how everyone is feeling about the living situation. Make sure all members of the family – from the youngest to the eldest – feel able to share their thoughts, discuss problems, make suggestions, and voice their opinions.

  • Respect each other’s privacy and independence. If possible, establish some physical boundaries so family members have some space of their own or at least can spend some time in a private place. Make sure everyone remembers to knock before entering a closed door.

  • Establish rules of the house regarding issues like roles, chores, noise, and clutter, as well as responsibilities like child or elder care. Come up with a workable plan to manage all the various household tasks that need attention. You may want to set up a rotating schedule so everyone shares the load.

  • Agree on a realistic way to share the costs of running the household. Money can be a sensitive issue, especially when family members have different levels of financial means. Perhaps, those with a limited income can contribute less but take on more household chores.  Make sure everyone is comfortable with and agreeable to whatever financial arrangements are made.

  • If your multigenerational living situation is a temporary arrangement, make sure everyone is on the same page as to the timetable and/or expectations. If someone is expected to move out by a certain date or event, make sure everyone intends to stay true to the plan.

  • If there are children living in the home, it’s important that adult family members respect the parents’ approach to childrearing. It is essential to ask permission of the parents before making plans with or for children.  Rules and arrangements made by the parents should never be ignored or contradicted.

  • Set aside time for family fun and bonding. Life is hectic. Living in the same house is quite different than enjoying each other’s company during temporary visits. Plan a game night, watch a movie, go to the zoo, or enjoy a special meal together.

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