The Modern American Family

Just a few decades ago, we defined a “family” as one household with a mother, father, and their children. This is no longer the norm. Today, more and more Americans are embracing other families like same-sex parents and single parent households. The Modern American Family is quickly becoming the norm in the U.S. multigenerational households.

Why multigenerational households?

Multigenerational households were the norm in America during the early 1900s, but as the Great Depression and the Second World War ended, young Americans strived for a new ideal: nuclear families. The term, which refers to a married couple and their children, was coined in the 40’s and 50’s. This home pattern has been extremely popular; however, as the decades have passed the trend of multigenerational households have reemerged.

Multigenerational homes usually consist of three or more generations like grandparents, adult children, and grandchildren. Yet, these households can also consist of parents and adult children or grandparents and grandchildren. The Pew Research Center says that 26 million Americans were living in multigenerational homes in the 70’s. Since then numbers have increased and by 2009, 51.4 million Americans lived in multigenerational homes.

 Some Factors that are increasing households:

There are many contributing factors for the increase of these households. A large number of senior citizens are in the need of family assistance. More immigrant families are coming to America and choose to live in combined households for cultural reasons. The largest contributing factor has been the economy. Generations United reports that 66 percent of multigenerational households’ site finances as the cause of their combined living situation.

Though these households can be crowded and stressful, Generations United says that 82 percent reported strengthened family bonds. This is especially true for parents and their adult children since it serves as a great time to establish a more mature relationship. Young grandchildren benefit from the extra love and guidance. And studies also show that combined families also help ease financial burdens for one or more family members.

In order to create a peaceful multigenerational household remember to speak openly and honestly with one another from the very beginning. Map out who will pay which bills and who will help with other responsibilities like childcare or chores. Also, express your expectations and goals for the future. Is this a temporary living situation or permanent? Lastly, establish boundaries and remember to have patience with one another.