Many families all over the world live in multigenerational households, which are defined as those that include three or even four generations of family members. They are particularly common in developing countries, where having multiple generations in the home is considered the norm, but they are also becoming more common in developed countries, such as the United States, as the population ages. As the costs of real estate, healthcare, and childcare continue to rise, more families are considering forming multigenerational partnerships. In order for a multigenerational household to function and thrive, however, each generation brings with it a new set of potential complications that must be addressed.
1. Understand WHY this arrangement has been put in place. Every living arrangement has advantages and disadvantages, and in order for it to be successful, the advantages must be recognised and outweighed by the disadvantages. Keeping in mind the reasons for choosing to live in a multigenerational household will help you deal with any conflicts that may arise when the going gets tough. The following are some of the reasons why families choose to live together:
Money. Job loss or unexpected expenses, such as a divorce or a death in the family, can be devastating.
A large-scale relocation in which one family unit temporarily lives with another family unit or member who already resides in the area until they can become acquainted with the area and establish their own residence.
A desire to live in a high-cost area is a strong motivator. By concentrating more family members in a single residence, the family is able to afford a nicer, larger residence in a better neighbourhood with better educational opportunities.
Working parents who prefer to have their own family members care for their children rather than strangers are known as “parental choice parents.”
Home care services are not an option for elderly relatives who need to be cared for by family members.
A strong emphasis is placed on the preservation of religious beliefs and customs.
A debilitating injury, heart problems, or an incurable disease are all examples of unforeseeable events that occur. If and when such circumstances arise, the presence of extended family members can act as a useful cushioning mechanism.
2. Make sure that everyone understands why you are living together by talking about the various circumstances with your family members. If you’re in a temporary situation, inform your family of your situation as soon as possible.
3. Define the responsibilities that come with taking care of those who require assistance.
Having a health issue that requires attention, such as an ageing parent who requires special care or a child with learning disabilities, is something that you should discuss with your family.
If their care is provided at home, which of the other members of the family is the primary caregiver for this individual?
4. Discuss boundaries as a group because they must be adhered to by all members of the household, from the youngest to the most elderly.
Address your concerns about your personal information. It can be difficult to maintain one’s sense of privacy in this environment. In order to ensure that everyone understands the importance of privacy, it is necessary to impose consequences on anyone who violates someone’s privacy in any way, whether it is through the use of the Internet, your diary, the examination of personal belongings, or even the listening in on phone calls.
When it comes to establishing and maintaining boundaries, it is important for each member of the family to understand that giving advice, especially when it comes to problems or arguments between a married couple within the home, should only be done “if asked for.” Never get involved in a couple’s argument unless it is a case of domestic violence or abuse.
Define your physical boundaries. Some people have more “physical” personalities than others, while others have more “emotional” personalities. Inform your family members of your concerns about physical violence and/or inappropriate touching in your home.
Set acoustic boundaries to protect yourself. It’s likely that at least one member of the family will enjoy listening to loud music or watching television in the background. Tell those who want loud music or television to use headphones instead of the speaker system.
Establish rules for using the bathroom. Some people are more accepting of the fact that they are using the restroom at the same time as someone else. Bathroom doors should be locked to prevent unintentional interruptions and embarrassments from occurring.
5. Allow parents to be in charge of their own children’s upbringing. In a household where the adults are not mindful of each other’s rights and responsibilities, homework can occasionally become a source of contention between the adults. When a non-parent adult feels they should be able to make decisions about what is best for their children, this can lead to disagreements and conflict. It’s especially important to communicate with your parents and grandparents, as well as other family members, so that they don’t interfere with the rules you’ve established for your kids.
6. Make a decision ahead of time about who will be responsible for paying bills, and make every effort to adhere to that decision. Of course, there are instances in which the unexpected occurs, and this is normal. The majority of issues can be resolved if all of the adult members work together.
7. If you believe there is a problem that needs to be discussed, call a family meeting. If it is a more personal issue, take the other family member aside and have a private conversation about it. As previously stated, there should be a time and a place where any member of the family can have some alone time. Many personal issues can be addressed and resolved in this setting, rather than escalating into a larger conflict.
8. Spend quality time as a family doing things you enjoy.
Everyone should be able to enjoy one day and/or night of fun each week. A game night, a trip to the movies, or even just sitting down and talking with each other are all great ways to create lasting memories.
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