Multi-Generational may be multi-beneficial

Topics of conversation with the kids this weekend included: (1)There is no money saved for your college education. (2) Mom hasn’t saved nearly enough for her retirement, and social security is predicted to be only a shadow of what it was when my grandparents retired. With high-school aged children wondering how they will achieve their dreams of financial independence in the next decade, these were clearly not the answers they wanted to hear.
These are conversations we need to have not only with our kids, but our parents. Everyone in the country has been affected by the Great Recession one way or another, and to go along in denial will not replenish our bank accounts.
Clearly, things are bound to change. After all, we Americans have too much compassion than to allow our elderly to suffer widespread degrading poverty, nor are we a people that will shrug our shoulders and say, “Oh well” to our children when secondary education is required to advance from retail clerk to professional career.
A natural solution appears to be trending, according to the Pew Research Center, prompting a slew of articles looking at how the multi-generational home is becoming more popular. This trend is bound to continue into the next couple of decades. Life spans are lengthening, and the cost of living is making home-sharing far more attractive. After all, it seems a waste to spend hundreds of dollars a month paying a mortgage and heating and cooling a large space for one or two people to live in, when that same space could be utilized by several. By sharing space and in some instances finances, more families find they can make ends meet once again.
People in their forties or older will remember television shows like The Waltons and The Andy Griffith Show. They taught kids like me and my brothers that family togetherness was worth cherishing, and that more than one or two generations could live together happily. As a nation, our affluence made us less dependent on family. It may have made ours a ruder society in general.
Last week, as I listened to RCHS English teacher Deb Krotz’s report to the USD 109 school board in Belleville, Kansas, about “Safe and Civil Schools”, her comments on manners really caught my attention. Teachers will begin teaching monthly manners classes. It seems that our junior high and high school youth have little awareness of manners, and their expectations for how to be treated as well as how to treat others are sadly lacking compared to a generation or two before. Many of the techniques teachers will use to teach in the multi-tiered system will only work if manners are expected and enforced, in fact, she says. Children learn better if they know they are cared for and about, and manners go a long way towards communicating that care, Krotz says. (If it seems that bullying is on the rise, it may be in part to a lack of enforcement of manners.)
Back to multi-generational homes. Grandparents, in general, often are the adults in our lives that remind us to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when we are little, and who have time to spend with us, talking to us, reading to us, and bolstering our self-esteem with encouraging words at our every accomplishment. If they can become an integral part of our kids lives once again, by sharing a home, how can this be anything but good?
Skeptics will abound, but as the trend increases, more will start to see the benefits.
If you are or have been living in a multi-generational home, please email me at vcoons.telescope@gmail.com

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