Multi-generational living – are we missing out?
Through a set of unforeseen circumstances, our family life changed drastically and our daughter and young granddaughter moved in with us. We live in a 1600 square foot condo with a large living room/kitchen, a media room, an office, a large front closet, and two bedrooms, each with a walk-in closet and full bath. The floor plan offers needed privacy to go along with communal living.
Initially, I thought we’d be fine with this living arrangement. Now, a year later, while our daughter hunts for their own home, I find that I don’t want them to move out. Living together has been better than “fine.”
Helping our daughter with child care is a breeze when said child is in the same house. It’s not just the convenience of having her right here when it’s time to take her to school, or pick her up, or take her to an appointment. It’s the joy of having her energy and enthusiasm filling the house with laughter. “Grandpa, will you play two rounds of museum guard with me?”—a game she made up and for which she has detailed explanations and rules. “Grandma, can I read to you?” I’ve heard all of her books hundreds of times and love each and every reading. Yes, sometimes there are tears and whining, but that’s okay too.
Then there are the benefits of having an extra adult to share the work load and the expenses. Speaking of expenses, I have yet to calculate the savings by not duplicating—one set of appliances instead of two must equal four or five thousand dollars, one set of utility bills instead of two translates to a savings of four to five hundred dollars (or more) a month.
This communal living has psychological benefits too. The teaching and learning that flows back and forth—I’ve had to search Google to find out about some of the things our granddaughter talks about from school—the hugs and teasing, the caring and sharing, all of it priceless and beneficial for everyone. We offer stability and security, an oral history of our family, a perspective and wisdom (I hope) from our life experience. Our daughter keeps us current. Our granddaughter keeps us young. And love bounces off the walls.
It is said that multi-generational living went out of fashion with the surge of baby boomers. I’m one of those boomers and yes, we all thought we had to have our own homes; the bigger the better, right? Many of us followed jobs that took us miles away from our parents. Seeing, first hand, the benefits communal living has brought us, I wonder how that isolation from family impacts our children and our grandchildren. How does it impact us? What do we all lose in that separation of generations?