In many cultures, especially Native cultures, it’s traditional for people of different generations to live under the same roof. For many people, multigenerational households are becoming more common again.
Tips for many generations living together:
- Plan ahead if possible. Talk about how to address possible problems before they start. Discuss boundaries, use of space, and different ways to communicate about what’s working and what’s not.
- Create clear roles and responsibilities. Put these in writing if that helps. Little things can be the most annoying, so be specific. Be clear about the issues that will be deal-breakers for you and which ones you can let go. Don’t keep quiet and let resentment build up. Resentment can lead to blowups you don’t need.
- Use space wisely. Make your home as ready for sharing as you can. As much as possible, make some private space and private time for everyone. Be sure the home is safe for children and elders.
- Organize expenses. Make individual budgets and a shared household budget. Be clear about who pays for what – and how and when bills will be paid. Family members with fewer resources could contribute in other ways, like cleaning the house or care giving. Review your plan every once in a while to make sure it’s working.
- Plan for different technology needs. For their developing brains, young children (birth to age 2) should have zero screen time. Figure out how your multi-generational household can protect children from too much technology. Create “screen free zones” where children eat, sleep, and play.
- Facilitate family time. Help your children and family get the most out of shared space. Create routine, scheduled times together – shared meals, game nights, nature walks, or family conversations.
- Go with the flow as much as possible. Expect to face conflicts, frustrations, and moments when you want privacy and freedom. Get some time away, get clear on your priorities, and, when you’re ready, go back to your family with a loving approach.
- Have regular times to talk about challenges. A trusted elder or professional mediator may be able to help your family sort out bigger challenges.
- Learn more about traditional multigenerational household practices in your culture. For some European cultures, you might have to do some digging to learn more.