NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County

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All Together Under One Roof

All Together Under One Roof

          Nearly 4 million American families have three or more generations living together under one roof, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report. This may happen for many reasons: older grandparents need assistance and care; adult children have financial difficulties due to divorce or job loss; grandparents or adult children need to share expenses in tough economic times; or families desire to merge to create a loving, safe environment for children.

          When generations live together there can be many benefits though beyond financial or safety needs.  Children often get special attention from loving adults, learn the value of older adults and experience an increased knowledge of family history and cultural beliefs.  Grandparents receive loving care, a better quality of life and can gain a sense of purpose and energy from the younger generation.

• Communication is the key to a peaceful home. Have family meetings to discuss issues before they become problems. Make a plan for roles and responsibilities, chores and child or elder care.

• Arrange living area so everyone has their own space. Everyone needs a space to call their own, whether it’s a bedroom, a sitting area, or a corner to place a favorite chair, watch television or to read or study.

• Grandparents need to live their own lives. Living with family should not mean grandparents have to give up friends, activities or their privacy.

• Routine and consistency are essential. Mealtimes and bedtime rituals are important. Parents should remember to have one-on-one time with their children and take time for themselves.

• Facilitate grandparent–grandchild interactions. Grandparents and children who live together can develop shared interests that create bonds and positive memories.

• Be realistic. People can’t be expected to change their basic nature. You have your viewpoint and teenagers will not want to spend all their time with the older generation. The hubbub of a busy house can be a big adjustment, so don’t expect everything to go smoothly all the time.

• Treasure the joys of a multigenerational household. This is a special opportunity to share family history and to record in audiotape or video the stories, photos and experiences of all members of the family.

 

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