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Multi-generational household can challenge schedules PDF Print E-mail
Monday, March 11, 2013 9:27 AM

DELPHOS — Young adults living at home with parents may be an economic necessity but what is the effect on the relationship between them and their parents?

For our multi-generational family — parents Karl and Theresa; daughters Shelly and Maria; son, Ethan; and grandson Alex — the dynamics are ever evolving. All things considered, Karl and Theresa feel most of the dynamics are manageable; however, there are a few unresolved issues.

When it comes to Shelly’s parental role and responsibilities, there are a few shortcomings that have been addressed many times. The friction revolves around Shelly’s aversion for doing the baby’s laundry and cleaning and picking up after herself and her son. After many sit-down discussions filled with the empty promise of “I’ll get to it” between Karl, Theresa and Shelly, there has been some inconsistent improvement with daily chores.

“She has been doing her laundry and the baby’s laundry,” Theresa explained. “It’s better.”

When Karl and Theresa found out that Shelly was pregnant, they were floored. After the initial shock, Karl and Theresa accepted the reality and focused on taking care of their daughter and her baby as best as they could. They knew that she would make the best possible choices and be responsible for her actions.

“She is in a comfort zone,” Karl rationalized. “She is saving money on daily living expenses and babysitting. Financially, she knows she can’t make it on her own at this time.”

There have been times when Theresa has tried helping Shelly by purchasing some daily necessities like diapers but the assistance was refused. The baby and his care was her responsibility and she would take care of it herself.

The emotional bond between Karl, Theresa and their daughter has not changed since learning of and living through the life-changing event.

A Pew Survey released in 2012 found that the effect is more positive than negative. Overall, 34 percent of adults ages 18-34 say that living with their parents at this stage of life has been good for the relationship. Only 18 percent say the living arrangement has been bad for their relationship with their parents; 47 percent say it hasn’t made any difference.

For the most part, Shelly likes living at home but feels a lot of frustration with all the noise and commotion the family makes. Through the week when the family is scurrying about getting out the door and starting their day, Shelly is just walking in the door after working a third shift. At 7:20 a.m., she is ready to crawl into bed and go to sleep.

On the weekend, when everyone is home and she has worked the night before, it is typically very loud in the house and rest is at a premium.

Shelly would like to be independent from her parents and live on her own, yet has anxiety about moving.

“She is afraid of the unknown,” Theresa explained.

Shelly is financially responsible for Alex’s needs, like clothes and diapers, but Karl and Theresa provide the roof over their heads. Since each family member is a built-in caretaker of sorts for Alex, Shelly saves quite a lot of money each month on babysitting. At this time, she is saving as much money as she can and is working on long-term goals so that she will be able to move out on her own.

In some cases, the economics of multi-generational households can be beneficial for both adult children and their parents. While many young adults help defray their parents’ household expenses, living with mom and dad can also be a financial lifeline. In 2010, the poverty rate for young adults ages 25-34 who lived in multi-generational households was 9.8 percent.


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