A survey by Grandparents.com says that 6.2 million or 5.3 percent of all U.S. households are now multigenerational and three-fifths of grandparents are providing some sort of financial assistance to their fully-grown children. That's up from five million multigenerational homes in 2000, according to Grandparents.com.
Gary Drevitch, senior editor of Grandparents.com, said the trend is largely due to the economy. He said on "The Early Show" Tuesday, in 62 percent of multigenerational households, it's the adult children who are moving back with their parents, who are the grandparents.
But "Early Show" substitute co-anchor Chris Wragge shared the story of a multi-generational family in Duxbury, Mass. that's successfully living together and saving hundreds of dollars a month sharing utilities, child care and other household costs. But the grandparents moved from down the street into their daughter and son-in-law's home.
However, their situation isn't usually the case, Drevitch said. That's because 55 percent of grandparents, he said, do not carry a mortgage, and grandparents control more than half of the country's wealth. So while grandparents have certainly taken a hit in this economy along with everyone else, he explained, they are, in many cases, more solvent than their young married children with young children.
How do you make sure you're living respectfully together?
Drevitch offered these tips for successful multigenerational living:
Respect each other's space and time
What Grandparents.com found in talking to families who have been doing this, is it's not so much the amount of space dedicated to being the private room or space for the grandparents, but how it's respected and how the adult children and the grandchildren learn how to respect the independence and privacy of the grandparents.
Don't take grandparents for granted. Just because they are living there doesn't mean they are obligated to babysit all day. The flip side is for grandparents to not let themselves get in that situation.
Make rules mutual
Whether it's grocery shopping, filling the car with gas or enforcing bedtime for the kids, it's really crucial that the two older generations are on the same page and when it's a multi-generational household, it's even more important because it involves every aspect of day to day life. It's really important for grandparents to remember that when it comes to the kids, it's the parents who set the rules.
Grandparents everywhere across the country disapprove of something that their kids do with their grandchildren, but they do have to remember that the parents set the rules for the kids and respect that. It's the same advice that you give a husband and wife, which is to avoid sending mixed messages to the kids.
Treat your family like your friends
We treat our friends with patience, we listen to them, tread lightly before criticizing them and we ask them for advice, which, in short, is almost the exact opposite of how we treat family members.
Avoid slipping into old roles
So many adults have not lived with their parents since they were teens. They may slip back into old roles that they don't want to be in and there may be unresolved issues. Before you move in together, have a frank discussion about those issues. You may have to agree to disagree.
Remember the grandkids are watching
Kids take a lot of cues from how their parents and grandparents get along and how they resolve conflict. The adults in the household should take a moment before opening their mouths to criticize and to think of all of the good things about the other person. Also think about the situation and think about which battles to fight. Take a step back like you would with any conflict and try to be nice.