Multi-generational Living / by kevin murray

It seems rather strange that today's newest homes are nearly 1,000 sq feet bigger than in 1973, whereas conversely household size has decreased about 1/2 a person over the same time span as reported by   Although, people are marrying or having children at much later ages than has been the historic norm, one must take into account that the life expectancy in America has increased from the beginning of the 20th century which was about 47 years of age, to nearly 79 years of age presently.  So in actuality, it is highly unusual for children today not to have grandparents, with the additional possibility that they may too have great-grandparents.


All of the above makes one ask the question, if all this is true, why aren't there more multi-generational families living under the same roof, as it would appear that it makes more economic sense along with the obvious benefits of having a multitude of people that can perform, aid, or assist in a multitude of tasks.  Of course, this hasn't even taken into account the benefits of being around people that you often love and cherish; your family and your extended family members that are in essence the most important and the most meaningful parts of your very existence.


According to multi-generational living under the same roof is in an upward trend, but this statistic is somewhat deceptive, to the fact that it is minority groups predominantly that are much more likely to be in multi-generational households in the first place, and minorities today make up a greater percentage of our population as compared to 1980, to wit "Asian Americans were the most likely of the major racial and ethnic groups to live in multi-generational arrangements (27%). By comparison, 14% of non-Hispanic whites lived with multiple generations of family."  The most probable reason why Asian Americans lead in multi-generational households is that their historic culture has impressed upon their people the interconnectedness and inherent responsibilities of children to parents and to grandparents.


While it certainly can be said that if you are not living in the same community that there isn't any conceivable way that you can still live in the same house, a significant percentage of relatives actually live within close proximity of each other.  In situations, to which family members do not have a healthy respect or regard for other family members it does make sense that living under the same roof would bring in much more tension and unfortunate dramatic situations to make it seemingly untenable.  However, what must also be recognized is that the cycle of life follows all of us around, so that it certainly isn't unfair to believe that we have familial responsibilities that are incumbent upon us to attend to and to embrace.


In an era in which it is common that both parents work, and/or that single parents are overworked and stretched to the limit, there is safety and prudence in embracing a multi-generational family unit that will often be beneficial for all parties involved as each is able to contribute and each is able to receive according to their needs.