Kathe Kline and Jonna Overson talk about a Stress-Free Multigenerational FamilyIn this last episode of our 4 part series, we talk about the article, Multigenerational Families Provide Benefits for Everyone. In the first episode, we talked about Families Living Under One Roof. The second delves into the Pros of Families Living Together. Also, while multigenerational living has its pros it also has its downside, which we discussed in the third episode.

Multigenerational living is one of the hottest trends in housing nowadays. Putting multiple generations under one roof could be a difficult task. However, if done with planning and open communication, it can be successful. A multigenerational household could be meaningful and happy for everyone involved. Anybody who is thinking about entering into this type of living arrangement should follow the tips below to make sure the transition is smooth and stress-free.

Have Family Meetings

Having family meetings depends on the family. In Jonna's household, it’s very calm. There’s a lot of conflict diversion. Not a yelling household. It’s very placid and we don’t do well with hashing out and having a big group discussion. What seems to work for us is to have quiet sharing sessions. One-on-one seems to work better for us.

You have to understand what your loved one is going to be receptive to. After which, create a conversation around that. Your family meetings might be in a big group or they might be a one-on-one conversation so that people are more open. Everybody can have their own style of a family meeting.

Communicate any household Issues with the family members

If you are living in a multigenerational household, communication is key. This goes along with family meetings. In Jonna's house, her husband was doing the laundry and her father also wanted to do the laundry at the same time. So they had to have an intervention. The three of them had to sit down and learn how to communicate with each other on these things. Being open about that communication and being willing to say this isn’t working for me but this way could help. They even had a calendar up so sometimes things get written on the calendar so they know that there won’t be a conflict.

Set Up House Rules in a Multigenerational Home

At the outset of a multigenerational home, you need to be open and honest and set out some ground rules. Jonna tries to avoid conflicts in her multigenerational home. So, what her family did was they created a neutral zone. Early on they just said, your beliefs and values are yours, our views and values are ours. If you want to talk about those beliefs and values do that away from the children and in your own space and vice versa. No politics, religion, and those things that you’re not supposed to talk about at parties. Some families are going to be on the same page and it’s going to work out just fine. They just set the standard early, they had the house rules really clear. It was to protect not only her and her husband but also her father from misunderstanding a conflict.

Establish Financial Responsibilities

For most families, multigenerational or not, money is a sticky subject. Try creating both individual budgets and a shared household budget. The financial bit can definitely be challenging. This is because as an adult child Jonna want to give to her family the whole time. She also had to be very realistic about how long the arrangement might last. Also, why they were doing it in the first place.

Part of her father’s agreement living with them is that they’re building out a second living structure that he’ll have on his own. So, they agreed that he would give them a very small rent. Not even what you would pay for a studio apartment in Southern California to help with the costs. But each family is going to be so unique and different based off of their specific arrangements. People should not feel embarrassed about talking about money or asking for money. Even hashing that out before.

Have a Separate and Shared Spaces for All Family Members in a Multigenerational Home

Make sure your home is ready for sharing. Create some private space and time for everyone. Ideally having separate spaces and having communal spaces are amazing and valuable. In reality, though sometimes when Jonna walked into multigenerational houses where there’s an aging parent that has health issues they might take over the whole floor. The communal spaces are essentially gone. Sometimes it happens that that doesn’t work out. But Jonna thinks that in those situations it’s really important to be cognizant of the space. Sometimes creating a mental boundary can be efficient. Even if you don’t have a clear physical boundary.

Be Good Role Models by Teaching Children to Respect Older Family Members

Children may need reminders to recognize the special bonds and benefits of close grandparent-grandchild relationships. Jonna has a 13-year-old daughter. She has different views than her grandfather. That is why sometimes they will go head to head about opinions. It’s very eye-opening to her to hear Jonna say, maybe it’s time to back off. You can’t talk to him like he is up here, he is your grandfather. He deserves different respect. She’s been learning to deal with that and he’s been learning to talk to her like she’s a person.
Be Flexible

You need to be very clear about where you’ll intervene, what things they need to fix on their own. There are bound to be conflicts and frustrations. Also, there are moments when you long for privacy and freedom. Accept this as fact, and when it happens it won't be so unexpected or catastrophic. Get a little time away, get clear on priorities and go back to your family with a loving approach.

Be Nice

Be kind, be nice to family members regardless of whether they are living with you or not. Especially if they are. It takes a little compassion because it’s hard on everybody in Stress-Free Multigenerational Familythis culture that we live in.

Creating memories and long lasting traditions that will live on is what’s important. Trying to live in a multigenerational way does take some time getting used to. But by making decisions together it can help you have a meaningful and happy life together.
About Our Co-Host

Jonna Overson is the Founder of Green Tree Home Care – a business that provides Care Professionals in the homes of clients so they can stay safe, cared for, and comfortable at home.

Jonna discovered a passion for working with the senior community 7 years ago. She is also part of the sandwich generation. She understands the challenge of balancing the needs of marriage, growing teens, and aging parents.

She is an expert on helping family members stay in their own home and was on the show before. You can hear her original interview on episode 24 when the show was still pretty new. You can check out her website at https://greentreehomecare.com/

Mentioned in this Episode:

MissouriFamilies.org – Multigenerational families provide benefits for everyone


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