You are going to have issues in a multigenerational household for the sheer fact that people are from different generations, thus they think and act differently. You are also going to have problems legally and emotionally because of the stress of having to care for parents or grandchildren in addition to your own children. The issues are many, and according to the new census data, currently there are nearly four million American multigenerational households, so as you can see, they are not going away.
The United States Department of Commerce defines multigenerational households as households that consist of three or more generations of parents and their families. Most of these multigenerational families fall into two types of family structures. One type of family structure is a family that consists of a householder, his or her children and grandchildren. The grandparent or older relative in this family structure is often times the primary caregiver and responsible for the children in the family under the age of eighteen. The other type of family structure includes a householder, his/her own children, and his/her own parents. In this type of multigenerational family, the householder is responsible for his/her own children and also responsible for the care of his/her own parent. In both types of multigenerational family structures, the stress can be overwhelming.
Multigenerational families have many of the same issues and problems that other more ":traditional” families have except multigenerational families have those issues and problems multiplied. Some of the common issues faced by multigenerational families within the household include lack of privacy and not enough storage space.
Lack of privacy is a common problem felt by family members in all types of family structures, especially those in a multigenerational family. One way to deal with privacy issues is family members should have respect for other family members, their company, and their possessions. Of course, this does not happen overnight and is more of a long term solution, but respect for others and their property should be taught early on and in every household, not just multigenerational households. Another way of dealing with privacy issues is to try designating an area to each family member at different times. For example, on Saturday night a teenage family member would like to have a few friends sleep over: the family room in the basement could be designated to her and her friends only for the night. And the next afternoon, Grandpa would like to watch football at one in the afternoon until six that evening: this could be his designated time for the family room. There are no easy solutions, and one way of dealing with issues may work for some families but not for others.
Many multigenerational families have issues with not having enough storage space. Not having enough storage space is not only an issue faced by multigenerational families, but an issue many families face. Down-sizing is one solution to this problem. Family members could then have a yard/garage sale and raise money for a family trip or new TV. Another solution may be to build a small storage shed. Again, what works for some families may not for others. It is always a good idea to get feedback from all members of the family about how to deal with family issues and problems.
Multigenerational families are expected to become more common, which has prompted some home builders to offer multigenerational configurations among their design options. Many of the homes feature maximum usability by people of all ages and abilities to increase the accessibility to all family members in a multigenerational family. Several homes are being designed with bathrooms that are wheelchair accessible and other handicap features. Some home designs even include two master bedrooms and two master bathrooms. These homes are priced between $ 200,000 and $ 400,000. Custom designed homes range in price from $ 400,000 to $ 600,000. So, while available, these homes are not affordable to many.
Other issues you may face are legal issues such as not having the right to enroll a child in school, or get them medical care, etc. So, to deal with this, obtain legal guardianship over the child, or at least have written consent for these types of activities. It is also important to talk to the school board and make them aware of the situation so that they can advise you of the best way to legally go about the matter.
Visit the Generations United web site for additional information on multigenerational families and grandparents and other relatives who are raising children. Generations United is the national membership organization focused solely on promoting intergenerational strategies, programs, and public policies.