During my childhood in the Philippines and then later in Seattle, I was lucky enough to live in the same house as other relatives. At one time or another, we had an aunt or uncle living with us. For a few years, we also lived in the same house as my grandparents. They helped my parents — who both worked full-time — by preparing meals and taking care of us. I have memories of my grandmother sewing the buttons and mending the hems of my school uniform. She was also constantly cooking in the kitchen and making sure all of us were well fed.
When I was in high school, I was a little embarrassed by the fact that we all lived together. I figured only recent immigrants like my family lived this way and that most Americans lived independently of their families and in-laws. Now that I have children of my own, I can fully understand the benefits of a multigenerational household.
According to this recent Parade Magazine story, “Happiness is a Full House,” more families are moving in together — for reasons that include love, convenience and the economy. The story uses statistics from a recent an AARP study: About 6.6 million U.S.
households had at least three generations of family members in 2009 — an increase of 30 percent since the 2000 Census. Realtors are also recognizing a demand for homes that accommodate multiple generations.
The story also quotes Andrew Cherlin, a professor of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins University. “Parents and grandparents are like the National Guard—they’re called up to active duty when there’s a crisis,” he says. “But while families may be moving in together to save money, they’re discovering the advantages of shared child- and elder-care and an enriched family life.”
I’m really interested in pursuing a local story about this. Do you have other family members living in your house? What’s the key to finding harmony in these extended-family living arrangements?