If you’re part of a multi-generational home, you’re in good company. The number of Americans living with two or more adult generations of one family rose during the last recession and has grown to an all-time high during the recovery.
More than 64 million Americans live in a multi-generational home, according to a census analysis by the Pew Research Center.
About half of such households include two generations, while almost 27 million more have three — such as grandparents, parents and grandchildren. That’s a lot of opinions to have under one roof. Here are suggestions to help make such living arrangements emotionally healthy and even rewarding for everyone.
First, establish ground rules for all aspects of communal life, from how to handle disagreements to who puts out the trash. Write up and post a list of responsibilities that takes into account each family member’s strengths and abilities.
Next, create a spreadsheet for family expenses such as monthly bills and weekly food shopping, and what every person’s contributions are. This should include everything from gas for the car to internet and wireless services if everyone is on a shared family plan (great for saving money). Depending on each person’s financial circumstances, the amounts might not always be divided equally, but there will be fewer money arguments if there’s a family-wide consensus about what’s fair.
For harmony, create boundaries in the home. Designate both private and shared spaces. Consider the needs of all generations, including any teenagers who might be struggling with their own growing pains. Talk out problems as soon as they come up — silence leads to resentment.
And be sure to schedule fun time to strengthen family bonds, whether it’s chronicling family recipes to pass down or helping Grandma digitize and caption family photos for future generations.
The Pew Research Center has more on multi-generational living trends.
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