In 2011 my wife and I purchased a home with my in-laws for all of us to live in. Most of you probably think I am crazy. Living with your in-laws is widely considered a recipe for disaster. Yet, six years later, I can gratefully state that I am truly blessed to live in a multigenerational household.
Unparalleled quality of life.
I live in Astoria, which is set to become one of the hottest New York neighborhoods outside of Manhattan. Back in 2011, while the market was down, we decided to purchase a two-family home with my in-laws. There were two main reasons that led us to that decision:
- being able to have help with childcare as my son was born that year.
- being able to access home ownership which would have not been possible for any of us individually.
Fast forward six years, we own a home in New York City in a neighborhood that we wouldn’t have been able to ever afford for home ownership otherwise. We each have a big space, a backyard and a basement, for a mortgage that is lower to what we would pay for if we were renting. Our property value has naturally increased over the years. And while we have occasional expenses and inconveniences that come with home ownership, I am truly grateful for this decision.
Parenting and family connection.
However the real benefits of a multigenerational household do not lie in the material realm. Having my wife’s parents downstairs offers a world of convenience that I can’t properly formulate to fully give them justice. While we have access, we try our very best to not abuse this privilege. For our son, the set up is truly magical. When he comes home from school, he gets to hang out with his grandparents every single day and he truly appreciates that. He also have the luxury to go downstairs and take a break from us when he feels like it (everybody wins ?). This set-up tremendously contributed to Enzo’s multilingualism. Not only does he gets to practice Spanish with his mom, he also fosters it on a daily basis with Mamie and Papy. (Funny note: Enzo calls his Hispanic grandparents the French way ?).
The bond that was created between Enzo and his grandparents as a result is strong. For my son, having access to them is a normal thing. I do wish my parents (who live abroad) could also experience this unique set-up. Enzo does wish that too and hopes that one day we would be able to all live together in one big house. Surprisingly enough, this was one of my dream when I was a kid too.
Multigenerational household tools and experiences.
I perfectly recognize that a multigenerational household is not for everyone. Aside from being able to get along, not everyone has the luxury of having a two-family home. In any case, I wanted to share with you some helpful ressources in the event you find yourself willing to experiment. The fabulous organization Zerotothree.org recently developed an incredibly useful amount of resources for grand parents involved in the care of their grandchildren. So if your children or your grandchildren are part of the 24% of toddlers under 5 that have grandparents involved in childcare you should really take a close look. On Zerotothree.org you will notably find:
- A webinar about how grandparents view their role and get tips on helping families navigate this essential three-generation relationship.
- A comprehensive guide for grandparents touching on limit settings for little ones, or making the most of mealtimes among other topics.
Lastly, I wanted a share an interview that my wife and my fathe-in-law gave to NPR about multigenerational household. While the interview is now almost three years old, I hope you will get some valuable insights out of it.
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