The Growth of Multigenerational Homes
Pros and cons of multigenerational homes
For Lisa M. Cini, president and founder of Mosaic Design Studio and author of “Hive: The Simple Guide to Multigenerational Living,” it was the lack of privacy that she found hardest to handle as a multigenerational family. “I think one of the most difficult things for me is that I am an introvert, and when I got home, my mom, being an extrovert, would want to chat and ask me all kinds of questions,” said Cini. “To me, it felt like I was 15 again and I was under an FBI investigation.”
The lack of privacy got so bad that at one point, Cini said she started sneaking into her own house to get to her bedroom before her mom would know she was home. “I needed time to rejuvenate from having to talk to people all day and be on,” she said. “I finally had to tell her that I needed an hour or so to get my mojo back before we chatted.” Although the conversation was difficult, Cini’s mom ultimately understood, and Cini no longer felt the need to sneak into her own house. Instead, Saturday mornings became their “catch-up” time, where they had coffee and chatted together on the front porch swing. “We created some wonderful memories this way and grew closer.”
Why multigenerational families need to talk things out
Making sure that all family members understand and weigh both the positives and negatives before moving in can help prevent huge fights. It’s also important to establish roles and boundaries for each household member, including clear-cut expectations of who is paying for what. For an adult child moving back home, Newman also suggests creating an exit plan if the situation is meant to be temporary. “You can always revisit it in six months and revise or extend the time as needed,” she said.
Cini stresses those who live in multigenerational homes should also have ground rules in place for handling common disruptions to the routine, such as inviting over guests. Within her own multigenerational family, she said they discussed when they could have family or friends over, and when approval would be needed. “Luckily, no one ever had people over that the other didn’t like, but imagine if your mother lives with you and your mother-in-law comes over and they hate each other,” she said. “This could create a lot of stress. Think of it like a wedding reception and who needs to sit next to whom, and who is off the guest list altogether.”
Multigenerational homes aren’t for everyone, but the proof that it can provide long and lasting benefits is fairly solid. Of course, if a longer life, closer family ties and financial help aren’t enough of an incentive, Cini said her parents also enjoyed IT support service 24/7 by living with her and her daughter.