Yesterday we looked at the new kind of boomerang living arrangements created as a result of the current financial meltdown. Sandwiched Boomers - as well as the generations before and after them - are moving into these situations in record numbers. Many positive results can come out of shared housing if you plan ahead. Today we have some tips to help take the sting out:
Have a family meeting to set guidelines before you move in together. All of you need to be frank and honest about your needs. Each of you will be giving up some autonomy and control so you can expect to have some situations where push comes to shove. Each of you can present your positions for the best and worst case scenarios. Then decide how you want to compromise so that everyone gets some of what they want. Put any absolute deal breakers out on the table so that they can be discussed in detail.
Work out a schedule for shared responsibilities, chores, and finances. If there is to be a division of labor, gain consensus about making the various tasks equitable. When children/grandchildren are part of the mix, arrive at a clear timetable with regard to babysitting so that no one feels exploited.
Set boundaries so that everyone's privacy is respected. Living together with roommates in a college dorm is one thing but sharing space with family members can get awkward. Identify signals to use when one of you wants to be alone. The last time you all lived together, the circumstances were likely quite different. Old issues around power or dependency can resurface in this close environment, particularly when there may be a difference of opinion about how to handle issues with children.
And see the comment yesterday from Dina who adds, "Mediation between merging families can be invaluable. A mediator can assist families in teasing out those hidden issues and negotiating norms that respect everyone's needs."
Tomorrow we will have some more suggestions for getting the most out of your family togetherness.