Multigenerational living can be an enriching experience for each family member involved; or it can be a minefield of interpersonal conflict waiting to explode. If you are looking at establishing a multigenerational household, here are a few tips to help you get a smooth start.
1. Establish a financial plan – Studies have shown that the number one cause for divorce today is finances. If finances can destroy a marriage, imagine what they can do to relations not bound by vows. Before you establish a multigenerational household, be sure to clearly delineate who will be responsible for the various household expenses.
2. Communicate – Any conflict is greatly compounded when the parties involved don’t discuss it. Do whatever is necessary to keep clear lines of communication between the different generations.
3. Compromise – Every relationship will eventually face the need for compromise. Close living quarters will make it even more important that an acceptable solution is found for differences of opinion. As you compromise though, be sure that everyone gives a little. If one member of the family always concedes, there will be room for bitterness and resentment later.
4. Recognize personal space – The more people you have living under one roof, the more important it is to recognize personal space. Allow each member of the family an area (i.e. their bedroom), where they are free to have some privacy.
5. Set ground rules – Boundaries help keep things running smoothly. If everyone knows where the lines are, they will be more conscientious of what is or is not acceptable.
6. Plan for together time – Make the most of your living situation. Plan for time when everyone gets together and has fun.
7. Plan on alone time – Be sure to give yourself (and your loved ones) time away from the group. We all need time to breathe and resettle every now and then.
8. Accept the good, the bad, and the ugly – Multigenerational living will not always be easy. Do what you can to stay positive and accept the fact that down days will come.