20140204 – Conclusions on Multigenerational Living
Untitled: Still thinking about the title and actually about what I will write today. The brain feels drained for some reason. On the other hand my friend Stu has just dropped in so I suspect interesting conversation is forthcoming.
A new day…well, I was right, and an interesting conversation we had. However, nothing blog worthy; so here I sit, on Wednesday morning, having checked my blog stats and discovered that I probably disappointed several loyal readers who visited yesterday and found no Tuesday with Terry. Maybe I can make up for that today. I’m centering myself with sounds and music of the Desert Southwest in my headset, and contemplating events of the last couple of months.
Having experienced several weeks of empty nest living I guess I’m acclimating to the quietness and more relaxed pace of this lifestyle. On the other hand I’m still firmly sandwiched between Mom’s needs and the kids’ situation, offering the occasional ride to work or home, and trips to the store, solving pharmacy issues, and helping navigate the world of automotive breakdowns and repairs. The kids still call regularly, and we still see and talk with Mom frequently. Fears about feeling unneeded and even a little lonely have subsided, and I’m enjoying the small measure of increased flexibility and freedom that comes with empty nesting. In short, my SW (Sweet Wife) and I are still living life in the sandwich; it’s just not as intense as it used to be. So I think some more pondering is due on sandwich and multigenerational living; today we’ll start with the latter.
What are my conclusions on multigenerational living? I liked it, and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. I would make it work in difficult physical circumstances, but I would prefer an abode more suited to and better equipped for this lifestyle. Here are my recommendations for anyone contemplating this lifestyle, and particularly my children if they should find themselves in this situation whether by choice or by accident.
Be prepared to accept that your parents can be a pain in the butt. They may be very fussy about the way things should be. They may be unyielding, strong-willed, and otherwise very determined about certain things. They may be chronic complainers or unceasingly and sickeningly cheerful. They may be very demanding. They may need a lot of physical help but resist admitting it. They may frequently change their minds for no logical reason that you can fathom. But they love you.
Be prepared to accept that your children will be…well, your children, even if they’re all grown up. But they love you. Enough said.
I would establish clear expectations up front regarding chores and responsibilities. I would expect generational financial independence, and clarity regarding cross-generational financial assistance and support. I would expect open and honest communication, and some upfront sharing of individual quirks and foibles; i.e., here’s why I load the dishwasher the way I do; I’m picky about the cleanliness of my kitchen counter; I don’t like stuff piled on the dining table; yes, sometimes I mess up and don’t even follow my own rules; please put things back where they came from; I’m just a control freak, I don’t intend to offend. I think you get my point.
To the extent possible and assuming you are blessed with the financial wherewithal and an abode better outfitted and with more space than that of the Waltons:
Each generation should have its own bathroom.
Each should have minimal capability for prepping convenience food and snacks in addition to the common kitchen.
Each generation should have its own living space beyond the bedroom in addition to the common living area.
Another way of looking at space is to think of it as each generation having the equivalent of its own efficiency apartment.
Each should have its own dedicated transportation where appropriate; an additional shared vehicle is very useful.
In many cases these recommendations regarding physical space and transportation are unattainable; they weren’t in our case, but we came close. You can make do in just about any physical circumstances as long as you keep this last recommendation firmly ingrained.
Whether you choose multigenerational living, or have it thrust upon you, let love rule your home. Multigenerational living is a very complex give and take relationship. It is a challenging road to travel and you are pulled in many directions. You will experience frustration and anger, along with happiness and joy. You will experience pain and regret as well as goodness and satisfaction. You will occasionally open your mouth and bad things, unintentionally harmful things will come out; we are human, we make mistakes, we are hurtful. But we also have an unlimited capacity for love and forgiveness. You are in this together. If you let love rule and commitment provide a firm foundation, you will survive and thrive and your family will be stronger for the effort.
Read and take to heart 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; live those words every day and you will never regret living the multigenerational lifestyle.
Loving my family and cherishing every day…Pops