Q: Our daughter and her two children want to move in with us. What are some of the pros and cons we should consider?
A: You should be commended for taking the time to review these important considerations.
Multigenerational households are not unusual in Canada. 1/3 of grandparents share a home with a lone single mother and grandchildren, and 65% of these grandparents are financially responsible for the household.
Let’s start with the advantages. Multi-generational homes offer a significant opportunity to deepen family bonds, enhance a sense of unity and establish a connection with history. Grandparents can play a central role in their grandchildren’s lives, transferring their wisdom and life experience. This is especially beneficial for passing along cultural heritage and traditions. The ability to share expenses and offer consistent and reliable child care are also major advantages. And ultimately, reciprocal care may be available to grandparents in response to acute episodic or potentially emerging chronic health conditions.
Equal consideration must be given to the potential difficulties. In addition to needing companionship, we also need our privacy. Limited or cramped space can be stressful, and ground rules should be established regarding what it means to respect each person’s possessions, space, time, and social activities. Different approaches to child rearing, discipline, nutrition, and house-keeping can create dissention and tension. It can be easy to become dependent on specific family members and this creates the potential for these family members to feel exploited or taken advantage of. Caregiver stress and the risk for elder abuse (financial, psychological and/or physical abuse) increases when additional demands are placed on family structures that do not have established communication and conflict resolution strategies.
This serves as a very brief review of some of the advantages and concerns in forming extended family households. The next edition of this newsletter will provide some tips for successful integration of multigenerational families.
This information was provided by Rhonda Latreille, MBA, CPCA. Rhonda Latreille is the founder and CEO of Age-Friendly Business, and she has been responsible for establishing many pilot programs and training initiatives within the justice, health, financial, and social service disciplines.