What to discuss while living in a multigenerational household

Posted August 24, 2016

The number of people living in multigenerational households continues to grow, as recently reported, and families seemingly will continue to consider the living arrangement.

The reasons for having multiple generations under the same roof range from financial to health, religious or cultural customs to unforseen circumstances.

Whatever the reason, the arrangement has benefits and challenges. A key to making it work is communication and understanding by all those affected before and during this phase of home life. Here are a few factors to consider when having those discussions.


A child moving home after college to regroup financially may have more of a set end date than parents moving in with their child for health and safety reasons, Forbes noted. Discuss how long cohabitation will last and if the situation is likely to be long-term, perhaps looking into a new home or redesigning your current one to better accommodate everyone’s needs and space.

Boundaries and privacy

One example of where boundaries should be set is parenting.

Grandparents should understand how the parents want to raise their children and make clear what foods, TV shows and bedtimes are approved, Money Crashers recommended. As grandparents may be more indulgent of a child than parents, at the cost of making the parent look bad, some time may need to be set aside for just parents and children to bond, Money Crashers continued.

As for privacy, if the house is too small for set spaces, consider scheduling private time for each family member, Money Crashers advised. If you’re remodeling your home or searching for a new one that accommodates the changing living arrangements, consider extra entrances, space in the kitchen for everyone and multiple master bedrooms and baths, Forbes said.


Discuss details of who will be paying for what in this new arrangement — one person may pay for utilities, another for groceries and those who can’t or don’t work may pay their way by cooking or watching the children, Forbes suggested.

Forbes also noted in the case of applying for a mortgage with multiple adults on the loan, all will be held accountable for debt.

Ongoing conversation

Get together regularly outside of the home to revisit issues and ensure concerns are addressed and everyone is happy, Forbes stated.

Remain flexible if household rules and expectations need to change in circumstances, such as the birth of a new baby or a family member falling ill, advised.

Don’t be afraid to take a family member aside if there’s a personal problem, for some quiet discussion before it becomes a big issue, wikiHow stated.

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