Multigenerational families provide benefits for everyone


Nina Chen, Ph.D., CFLE, Human Development Specialist, University of Missouri Extension

According to the Pew Research Center, 49 million people live in multigenerational families in the U.S. Many include adult children in their 20s. The trend to bring extended families together in one home is heavily influenced by factors like the struggling economy, a tough job market, the housing crunch, increased immigrants, parents returning to school, saving money for a home, inability to afford child care or preferring to have grandparents care for grandchildren, elderly parents needing care, and widows or widowers unable to live alone. Other factors include the increase in marital instability, the breakup of nuclear families and the remarriage of parents. Grandparents and step-grandparents are also becoming more important.

Living in a multigenerational family has numerous rewards for all generations, including:

  • Family members experience the high level of emotional bonding and closeness across generations.
  • Grandparents provide important role models in the socialization of grandchildren. Grandchildren learn how to care for their elders.
  • Spending time with children can bring purpose and meaning to the lives of older generations. For example, the physical demands of keeping up with kids and helping with homework make them feel younger, useful and active.
  • Grandparents help grandchildren survive parents’ divorce by giving grandchildren undivided attention and helping when single parents are overwhelmed.
  • Multifamilies have financial benefits for everyone involved. If grandparents are in good health and willing, they could help care for young children. Adult children living in the multifamily household can save money while going to school, finding a job or saving money to buy a home of their own.
  • Family members provide constant companionship, as well as help reduce money strain and stress.
  • Family members look after, help and support each other.
  • Bringing family members together can be a joyful time to share and treasure for everyone in the family.

Multigenerational living also has its ups and downs. Moving into a new household can be challenging and everyone involved needs time to make adjustments…

The full version of this article includes several suggestions for a meaningful and happy multigenerational family life – find the full article at

Don’t forget to honor the grandparents in your life for Grandparents Day on Sunday, September 7, 2014!


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