Multigenerational Household Not For Everyone
Tae Kim

Tae Kim

Why A Multigenerational Household Is NOT For Everyone

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Multigenerational living, especially for children and parents, is on the rise. In fact, there are now more than 13 million multigenerational homes in America.

While this lifestyle has plenty of benefits for both generations, it can also be detrimental to your health if you’re not careful.

So is multigenerational living for everyone?

Some people might think that having their parents or grandparents live with them will give them some nice company and help out around the house. But there are many things to consider before you take on this type of living arrangement.

For example, do both sides have different values? What about when you’re just trying to have your own family time in between work and all those extra responsibilities? And what if grandma can’t stand your partner or vice versa?

So let me tell you how I think a multigenerational household is not for everyone!

Lots Of People Under One Roof Means Less Privacy

I started living with my parents again in my thirties after a decade of having lived on my own.

It was an interesting feeling. Having my parents under the same roof as a full fledged adult.

Though I appreciated having more family members around and loved having my kids be able to interact with their grandparents on a daily basis, I forgot what it was like not having full privacy again.

Before I could come and go when I wanted without having to tell anyone. And if I didn’t want company, nobody was knocking on my door at any given time of the day.

But now with multigenerational living it’s different.

Given that we have 4 adults at home, it is a rare occurrence to be home alone. Which means someone is always there.

♦ If, I’m cooking something in the kitchen, my dad walk by asking what are you cooking.

♦ When, my wife is trying to get the kids ready for school my mom has to interject her opinion about the school outfit.

♦ I want my own personal time to decompress after work, but my dad need his phone fixed because it locked him out.

If you are someone that highly values full privacy, multigenerational living may not be for you.

Having roommates might be one thing – you can have firm boundaries.

But we all know when comes to family, boundaries are more of a recommendation than a firm rule.

And if you can’t accept that, you should reconsider living in a multigenerational household.

Communication Is Difficult Between Generations

At workplace you hear oftentimes people discussing the difficulty of communication between the millennial and the Generation Xr’s. Or now between the Millennial and the Generation Z’rs.

With only few years between generations, we already feel the strain of communication.

Now, try that with decades and with your own parents.

There is a multigenerational gap that’s very hard to cross.

Which means there are plenty of misunderstandings, arguments and miscommunications that happen between the two groups at hand.

My wife was already 6 months pregnant when we started living together with my parents.

I remember the night that we were preparing to go to the hospital.

Like any good husband, as soon as my wife gave me the signal, I grabbed the go to bag and started hearing out the door.

My dad, having grown up in a generation, a country and a time period where men didn’t accompany their wives to the hospital for childbirth, looked at me and asked “where are you going?”

I still remember the look on my wife’s face – “what did he just say??”

I gently guided my wife to the car and with a promise she could have anything she wanted after this ordeal and hoping to God I had one of those Men-In-Black memory erasers.

My dad didn’t mean any harm by his comments. He just blurted out what came to his mind based on his experience and upbringing.

Now, after a decade of living together and many similar ‘miscommunications’ that we had to workout together – going both ways, we have come far in better understanding each other.

But it would be an understatement to say we were just able to work through it – it took many tearful nights and discussions.

If you’re someone who struggles with communicating well with your parents or grandparents – or if you don’t feel you want to rock the boat with your parents, then multigenerational living might not be for you because it will only exacerbate the problem.

Grandparents Can't Do Things They Enjoy As They May Need To Care For Kids

It’s not just about the multigenerational living.

The multigenerational life could be even more difficult for some grandparents because they may need to take care of their grandchildren – who are often very young and require a lot of attention, while still being able to live an independent life without having any obligations.

Things that our grandparents might want to do, can’t be done anymore because they have to take care of the kids.

Such as going out for dates or traveling with friends and family without having any obligations.

It’s important that multigenerational living is something all parties involved agree on before making it happen.

Something my wife and I made sure we were all on board with before we made the decision.

If your parents are wanting to enjoy their own independence after retirement, multigenerational arrangement might not be as applicable to you and it’s important that both parties discuss their expectations in detail.

Parents Have Less Time To Spend With Their Children Due To Having Extra Responsibilities

This might be true if living in a multigenerational household brings in more responsibilities.

For example, I joke with my wife that I feel like I’m my parents tech support when they need help with their iPhones. Their HR department when they are having issues with their Medicare coverage. Their hired help that pulls out weeds from my mom’s garden or rearrange their room furniture.

Don’t take me wrong. I enjoy being able to help my parents and consider it a blessing.

But at times I wonder if I would have more time back if we weren’t living in a multigenerational household.

And if your parents are heavily reliant upon you for everything, this could be very true.

So if multigenerational living is something you are considering, the best course of action would be to spend time with your parents or grandparents and see what their needs are on a daily basis.

The last thing you want is to tarnish your relationship with your parents because you felt it was too burdensome and it affected your family’s well-being.

You And Your Spouse Might Get Into Arguments More Often Because Of The Extra People In The House

It’s not just multigenerational living that might make you and your spouse more likely to argue.

Many married couples will say they argued about the color of a room in their home, what kind of TV channel should be watched or how to spend discretionary income.

But if there are other people around who live with them – then arguments will be amplified tenfold.

It’s not to say multigenerational living doesn’t have its benefits – but it comes with a lot of responsibility and emotional burdens for all parties involved, so if you and your spouse are someone who needs their space or feels like they can’t express themselves around family members because they’re afraid of hurting anyone’s feelings then multigenerational living might not be the best option.

It’s important to discuss multigenerational living with your spouse and see how they feel about the idea before making any decisions because at the end of day a multigenerational arrangement is only going to work if you and your spouse are fully on board.

It Can Be Hard On Your Mental Health

One of the most important things to consider when choosing multigenerational living is how it can be emotionally draining for all parties involved.

With all the risks that I reviewed in this video, it’s not just grandparents who may experience this, but parents and children as well.

I know that both my wife and I’ve felt the burden of multigenerational living and with all the daily responsibilities, there were many times when both my wife and I just wanted to give up and live separately.

It’s important you have a plan for how your family can deal with these heavy emotional burdens because it’s not something that goes away overnight.

We make it a priority to create alone times – sometimes just my wife and I, other times just us and the kids.

I would recommend you make you and your spouses time a key priority in this arrangement. If we didn’t have our alone times at least once every few months, we don’t think we would have survived this long.

Make sure multigenerational living is something that your spouse and parents want as well before moving in because it can cause frustration for everyone involved if they don’t feel like their needs are being met or there isn’t enough attention given to them.

That being said multigenerational living can be a rewarding experience and it’s important to have an open dialogue with your spouse, parents and grandparents before making any decisions so everyone is on board.

And I’ll say from personal experience that multigenerational living has been one of the best decision of my life because I get plenty of quality time with my family and that’s something I would never trade.

But you want to make sure multigenerational living is right for the whole family so it can be a rewarding experience for everybody involved.

Conclusion

It is an emotionally draining process for multigenerational living to work.

One that can be very challenging and requires a lot of patience, understanding and communication from all the parties involved.

It’s not something everybody should go into doing without first giving it much thought and consideration before making up their minds.

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Steveark
3 months ago

I love your take on this complex subject. So many do this out of guilt but you’ve weighed the pros and cons carefully and made a decision that works for your family, fully recognizing there are costs as well as benefits. Your dad just about stepped on a land mine, a pregnant daughter in law, in labor, is not to be trifled with!