Americans are moving into homes with relatives at a significantly increasing rate, according to the Pew Research Center. The biggest benefit of living together is that it can help everyone to save money. However, when it comes to relationships and emotional reasons for living with relatives, there are pros and cons.
Pro: Financial Lifeline
One of the most common reasons to move in with relatives is because it saves families money. In fact, the number of people living with family members in multi-generational households rose from 46.5 million in 2007 to 51.4 million in 2009, according to a study conducted by Pew Social & Demographic Trends. The Great Recession forced many people to avoid poverty by moving in with relatives, and the study showed that it does work. In 2009, Pew found that the poverty rate for those living in multi-generational households was significantly lower than for people in other living situations. Moving in with relatives can be a financial lifeline during hard times.
Con: Possible Conflicts
Moving in with relatives can have drawbacks when it comes to family conflict and confrontation. When sharing living space with parents or siblings, old issues can resurface and cause fights. In the inevitable event of a disagreement, don’t allow your emotions to get the best of you. Instead, treat your family members as you would your friends. Listen and speak respectfully, and behave toward them with patience, recommends writer Georgia Witkin of Grandparents. This way, you can address conflicts respectfully and avoid family feuds.
Pro: Family Bonding
Living with relatives can actually increase your happiness, according to Witkin. Nurturing others and adhering to family routines can actually reduce stress, and if you’re moving in with your parents, chances are good that they’ll love it. Most of the grandparents surveyed by Witkin said that living with their adult children and grandchildren gave them a greater sense of purpose, and that keeping up with the younger generation helps them to feel younger. When living with relatives, you can strengthen your family bond, which will give you much-needed support if you are struggling with financial hardship.
Con: Harboring Resentment
Although living with family can sometimes lead to open conflicts and disagreements, it can also lead to some unhealthy passive behavior, such as unexpressed resentment. Avoid issues of resentment by openly discussing how long you will be living with your relatives, how you will contribute to the household and how you will negotiate rules. You might also want to clear up any long-standing issues from childhood, especially with siblings. The more openly and respectfully you communicate, the more likely you will be to get along with your relatives.
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Emma Wells has been writing professionally since 2004. She is also a writing instructor, editor and former elementary school teacher. She has a Master's degree in writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English and anthropology. Her creative work has been published in several small literary magazines.
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