New roommate paradigm: adult children & their parents.

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Historically, it’s the adult children who move back into the parents’ home, oftentimes because of financial issues.  Apparently that is no longer the sole definition of multi-generational living.

In a USA Today article, Who’s moving in? Adult kids, aging parents, Haya El Nasser writes, “(A)bout one in seven say they already have a ‘boomerang kid’ – an adult child who moves back home – or elderly parent living under their roof.”

This brings about two unexpected events:

  • The parents who enjoyed their empty nest and started to reestablish themselves as a couple, instead of just as parents, suddenly have an adult living with them who just happens to be the kid they gave birth to 30 years ago; or
  • The adult child who strove to establish his home with his spouse and their 2.5 kids suddenly have a parent living with them requiring just as much attention, if not more, than the young children they themselves brought into this world.

The USA Today article above focuses on a rising trend towards families deciding to purchase larger homes than they would have previously considered with the anticipation that it would be more economical to have other adult family members living in – and contributing to – the same household.  Talk about a paradigm shift!  Stephen Melman, director of economic services at the National Association of Home Builders says, “I remember when I was in college, no one wanted to be near their parents.”  That thought certainly resonates with me.  When I was single in my 20s and early 30s there was no such luxury of renting a place on my own and living-at-home was definitely not an option.  At one time I had two roommates so all three of us shared the same bathroom, kitchen and common living space.  Inconvenient and not as private as we would have liked?  Certainly – but the only way to afford housing and have the ability to put away money for our future was to split costs with other like-minded adults.

A Pew Research report earlier this year showed that “the share of Americans living in multi-generational households is at its highest since the 1950s.”  OMG!  As a Baby Boomer who was born in 1953, I just have to repeat, “OMG!!!!!”

My focus today is on the caregiving issue – that adult children and/or Baby Boomers find themselves with the added responsibility as caregiver to a loved one.  In my article Start your retirement – start your job as a family caregiver I address the caregiving aspect of Baby Boomer retirement which sometimes evolves into multi-generational living.  Our quality of life definition tends to change as family caregiving is added to our lives.  But it’s a fact of life for many of us and one that very few can escape.  But herein lies the problem…

Most of us aren’t prepared for that eventuality.  Those of us who are counting the days until retirement kid ourselves into believing that caregiving happens to others, not to us.  And our adult children find it difficult to wrap their minds around that type of living scenario whilst in the midst of their hectic career development and ever-changing family dynamics.

So what happens?  We find ourselves in an emergent situation that requires immediate action that may not be well-thought out because we don’t have the time to make a well-informed decision.  We all know that the worse time to make a life-changing decision is in an emergency.  There is a wealth of information available at our fingertips – the worldwide web is replete with helpful resources.  Even this website has many articles written on the subject.  As you browse through this website’s categories, be sure to enter a search term in the “Search My Site” box located at the right-hand side of each content page.

I’m not suggesting that you finalize plans that might not be implemented until many years down the road – or at all.  What I am suggesting, however, is that we all become aware that a) these issues exist and could very well happen in our own lives; and b) we’re going to do what we can now to make wise decisions later.

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2 thoughts on “New roommate paradigm: adult children & their parents.

    Kathy said:
    November 14, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    After a major stroke my grandmother was completely dependent on others. She was also basically blind before the stroke. My mom would bring her a homemade specially prepared dinner and feed her mother every night after work. I admired my mom for all that she did, her unwavering commitment, because I knew in my heart that I couldn’t do the same thing. Two years after my grandmother died my mom was diagnosed with cancer. My dad was her primary caregiver and I helped out. I wasn’t at all prepared, but I did things I never imagined I could because of my love for my mom. I wish I could have done more.

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      boomer98053 said:
      November 15, 2012 at 9:09 am

      I think you answered your own concern about wishing you could have done more. You said you weren’t prepared for what was required to care for your mom “but I did things I never imagined I could because of my love for my mom.” We all look back and beat ourselves up for not doing more, or for not doing better as what we DID manage to accomplish. The trite saying, “we’re our own best enemy” applies here. Let’s focus on what you did while being caught unawares. Wishing that you could have done more doesn’t make it so. Focusing on the “couldas” takes away from what you did. I hope you can rest in the peaceful truth that what you did was valuable, and beneficial – and was done with a heart full of love, as the dedicated daughter that you were/are.

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