All the family under one roof
The multi-generational family is making a comeback.
(Page 2 of 2)
They also face in-law issues. "My dad and my husband buck heads in the kitchen," Maxwell says. "For my husband, it's been a lot of compromise."Skip to next paragraph
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Sundi Hayes of suburban Kansas City, Mo., finds similar challenges in sharing a home with her 62-year-old father. "When my husband is frustrated with him and comes to me, I walk a fine line between the two relationships," she says.
Yet she appreciates her father's help with their three children: "We both work outside the home, and Dad is there to care for them before and after school. He also does small things around the house if I ask him to." Still, she adds, "I'm hoping it's not permanent. I would prefer that he live on his own."
"This was not a decision made lightly," Mrs. Hansen says. "Mostly, we have not regretted the decision."
Referring to "a few rough patches," she says, "It has probably been the most difficult for Millie. She had to leave her home of 50 years and friends behind to start over in a new community at 92."
Yet rewards abound, too: "Millie and our daughter have a very close relationship," Hansen says. "Millie has made new friends. I never would have thought that this situation would work out, and for many people it may not be the answer, but for us it has been a wonderful experience."
Sometimes even grandchildren become caregivers. For the past five years, Tricia Goyer's grandmother has lived with the Goyers and their three teenagers in Kalispell, Mont. She joined them when she could no longer care for her mobile home.
The couple took out a loan to add on to their house. They pay all the grandmother's expenses beyond the $200 a month she contributes. They also rearranged their schedules to accommodate her. In addition to working full time at home, Mrs. Goyer says, "I care for my teens and my grandmother, which includes doctor's appointments, hair appointments, and lunch out so she doesn't feel she's cooped up all the time. We feel it is our place to care for her."
Whatever multi-generation arrangements a family works out, keeping other relatives informed can be important.
"Distant siblings often have guilt pangs about not being there for Mom and/or Dad," says Kevin Drendel of Batavia, Ill., an attorney who does estate planning. "On the other hand, the siblings who are local often find themselves alone in caring for an elderly parent. Communication is the key."
For McCourt, keeping a busy three-generation household running smoothly involves pragmatism. She says, "You just have to let some things slide, pick your battles, and hope you're doing the right thing."