Today I’m sharing a guest post from one of my newest contributors, Lisa, who is sharing more about her findings when researching the benefits of living with parents for the second time!
One of the greatest hallmarks of growing up and ‘living your best life’ in today’s Western society is moving out of your parents’ home and into your own space. But this stamp of independence is a relatively modern lifestyle choice when compared to our ancestors’ living arrangements – and it’s not necessarily a better one…
Ancient Jewish culture dictated that new brides move into a built-on room connected to the homestead where her mother- and father-in-law lived – along with the rest of her husband’s brothers and their families. While it may, at first, seem like an uncomfortable living arrangement for some, many modern South African Muslim families have held onto a similar historic tradition, making it common for Muslim households to comprise of several nuclear families living in the same home.
While modern Western living arrangements require a big budget, there are substantial financial, practical and emotional benefits linked to living in community that are worth considering.
Below I share my top 6 reasons why living with extended family is a good idea
The benefits of living with extended family
Reduce Living Expenses
With more breadwinners in one household, monthly living expenses like rent, water and electricity and even groceries can be shared, making it far cheaper to live together than in several, separate homes. Combined spending power could even open the door to buying or renting a larger home to suit your collective needs, or upgrading furnishings and appliances. Depending on your circumstances, babysitting or even daily childcare costs may also be reduced with more responsible, available family members on hand to help out.
Being knit into your extended family through sharing day-to-day life together is a practical way to take the pressure off your spouse fulfilling all your social and emotional needs. Equally, it offers you the opportunity to provide emotional support to other family members too. Communal living is also a great way for single family members to get their social and emotional needs met. Living alone can leave you starved for physical affection and companionship, but sharing a home with family members can offer plenty of daily interactions that reinforce your sense of belonging and fill up your love tank.
Share Household Chores
Instead of Mom slaving away over the stove every night, communal living means grocery shopping and food preparation can be divvied up to share the load. Pet care, DIY jobs, cleaning and even bathing the kids are other chores that can be shared amongst the household, freeing up more time for work, leisure or family activities.
Support for Stressed-out Parents
Nicola’s husband went to London for 2 months to look for work, which is when she moved into her parents’ adjoining Airbnb apartment, knowing she would need the extra support and financial reprieve. Nicola’s parents and sister effectively became co-parents of her two young children, helping with daily childcare and, in some instances, discipline too.
“I don’t know how I would have coped without my family’s support,” says Nicola. “Besides the financial benefits of living together, I’ve loved seeing my children grow close to my parents and my sister through their daily interactions and playtimes”. This practical support gave Nicola the emotional margin she needed to cope with a difficult situation and the challenges arising from her husband’s physical absence.
Fewer Emotional & Behavioural Problems in Children
Research has shown links between strong grandparent-grandchild relationships and pro-social behaviour among children. A study of English children ages 11-16, found that close grandparent-grandchild connections were linked with fewer emotional and behavioural problems and fewer difficulties with peers. These relationships also helped to reduce the negative impacts of experiences such as divorce and bullying.
Improved Quality of Life for Grandparents
Grandparents’ involvement with grandchildren may help to keep them mentally sharp. An Australian study published earlier this year found that grandmothers who spent time watching their grandkids performed better on cognitive tests than did grandmothers who didn’t, and than women who didn’t have grandchildren. According to Dr Louann Brizendine, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, hormonal and brain chemistry changes in older men actually predisposition them to connect better with their grandchildren, leading to improved quality of life all-round. “The grandpa that kids can’t wait to see is the one who’s feeling the effects of the hormone oxytocin, often called the ‘cuddle hormone’. Grandfathers enjoying boosted levels of oxytocin are much more patient with your children than he was with you when you were growing up,” says Dr Brizendine. “The love circuits of the mature male brain can be hijacked by his grandkids, even more than they were by his own children,” she adds. Giving grandparents a renewed sense of purpose through daily childcare responsibilities could be the very thing that makes their twilight years some of the best.
What about you?
Are you living with extended family, or would you consider it?
Share your comments and thoughts below!