Multi Generational Family Dwelling

It’s time to bring back European Multi Generational Family Dwelling! I’m sure you are saying to yourself what is Multi Generational Family Dwelling? Well it’s basically a family who lives with 2 or more generations in the same home. It can be either a large single family home with many bedrooms and large common areas or a 2 to 4 family home with separate living quarters for each generation and one large common area with the capacity for the whole family to congregate in one area.

Remember the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”? Well it still does except the village these days is full of strangers (ie: Day care, nannies, Au pairs) and there is nothing wrong with that if you don’t live near your family and you can afford the help. But most people can’t afford the help.

My parents fondly reminisce about living with their extended families (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins) when they were young and how much fun it was for them. They learned to speak Italian, garden, cook, etc. from their grandparents. When they came home from school there was always someone there to greet them.

It was a time when parents helped their newly married children to start out in life and then helped raise their grandchildren. Children were taught to respect their elders and a real loving bond was formed within the family. In return grandparents were taken care of by the family in their old age. This was just the right thing to do for your family and everyone just lived this way.

Previous to 1935 there was no such thing as Social Security in America. Convalescent homes were non-existent. You worked until you couldn’t anymore and your family took care of you when it was time. If you didn’t have family to take care of you sometimes a neighbor would help.

Some where along the way this multi family dwelling was looked down upon socially and people started to let go of it once they earned enough money to buy their own single family home. Around the same time convalescent homes started to pop up and people stopped taking care of their parents in their old age. This manifested a clear disconnect within the family unit for a few generations.

I don’t want this for my parents or my children. I have never wanted this. For as long as I can remember I have always known I would take care of my parents, I would never put them in a home. I also would like my children to experience the same wonderful family lifestyle that my parents experienced. We need to teach our children family and moral values, good work ethics and compassion. Who better to do this than our own parents and grandparents?

To this day the multi generational family oriented lifestyle is a normal custom for many cultures all over the world. We need to seriously consider making this our custom once again. Times are tough in this economic down turn. The financial forecast is cloudy. We are facing a future that most likely will not have a social security check in it. Health care costs are out of sight and what Medicare covers is laughable. And unless you’re rich the care of the elderly in a convalescent home is scary. Families need to come together and start living simply. Actions speak louder than words so by choosing a Multi Generational Family Dwelling lifestyle you will be teaching your children:

  • The importance of family unity
  • How to show respect to their parents and grandparents
  • Help ease financial struggles (newlyweds just starting out or elderly ones in retirement)
  • Give the care your elderly loved ones need and deserve. (This teaches young ones compassion)
  • Many hands lighten the load- when one doesn’t have… everyone shares.
  • Old world traditions- Language, gardening, foraging, canning, cooking, wine making, composting, etc. Which in turn creates a healthier, eco-friendly, local, self-sustainable lifestyle.

This economy is pushing us in this direction. And there is nothing wrong that! NO one should be ashamed or embarrassed to say my parents and/or grand parents live in the same house as me. You should be proud to say this because you are teaching a tradition to your child that is practically a lost art. Teaching starts from infancy and this is a wonderful way to start.