I’ve never understood why only in America is it considered bad form to still live with your parents as an adult. Now I’m not talking the 45-year old living in the basement with no job and still sponging off mom and dad for a living while he/she rests on their hindquarters. I’m talking about two generations living and working together in the same household for the common good.
In most of the world, this is the norm rather than the exception, and I’d like to see it become a way of life here. Why? Because it benefits everyone. My son’s girlfriend will be moving in with us for 6 weeks while our son finishes his internship on the other side of the country. Then when he’s finished he’ll be returning home to search out another internship or permanent position. In his chosen field, that could be anywhere in the US, including Alaska, so for them to move to an apartment for what could be a month to a year, just isn’t very reasonable. So we’re opening our home without hesitation to them while they make this journey. We realize that by doing so we give up some privacy, but the gift we give them is options. The option to make long-term decisions based on desire and not immediate need.
And even as we embark on this cohabitation, the second for us with them (the first when he graduated college) I’m surprised by the pressure others put on the arrangement. The comments and condensations about living at home towards them and for us about taking back our children. I just don’t get that. It’s an honor for me that my children want to come home. That they love us enough to ask and know that we’ll welcome them. To know that our relationship as adults is very different and that they move in not as our kids but as our equals.
I also realize that it’s likely my husband will leave this world before me and the thought of living alone is something I’m not looking forward to. I’m a social person – I like people and I love kids and the hope is that someday my children will invite me to live with them. Not because they feel they need to repay me, but because they love my company. Sure, I’ll want my own space, my own kitchen, etc., and luckily we’re setting ourselves up financially so that that can happen, but the thought of getting to live and be with future grandchildren is one I hope for.
So I guess the point of my message is that next time you’re in the position to make a comment about someone’s multi-generational living arrangement, perhaps instead of judging them as somehow not being able to make it on their own, consider that it might be a choice. One that works for them and their spot in their journey through life at that moment and support them instead.
If my own kids won’t have me, maybe I’ll be lucky enough to find a family who needs an honorary grandma.
- Buy a Shirt and Save a Life – Gifts That Give (princesstimetoys.com)
- National Marriage Project: ‘Why Marriage Matters’ Study Says Cohabiting Parents Do Kids Harm (huffingtonpost.com)
- Marketplace multigenerational (familyinequality.wordpress.com)