Much has been made about President Obama’s daughters being the youngest children to reside in the White House in quite a while. But even more unusual is the addition of the nation’s “First Granny” – Michelle Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson.
With Robinson, the Obama’s join the growing national trend toward more multigenerational households. In the past eight years, the number of multigenerational households in the United States has grown by 10 percent to 6.2 million.
That’s one in every 20 households. There’s a cultural component – Asians, for example, are more likely to favor the multigenerational lifestyle – but the recent surge is more likely due to the economic turmoil of the past couple of years.
When young people move back in with their parents it’s often called the “boomerang effect.” These stays are usually brief, while the younger person recovers from divorce, loss of a job or similar calamity. When older people move in with their children, though, the length of stay is less predictable.
While Marian Robinson won’t have to fight with family members over use of one of the White House’s 35 bathrooms, the same can’t be said for most other multigenerational households. This is just one area of potential conflict for an extended family living under the same roof.
AARP has some tips on how to survive and thrive in a multigenerational home. From a family history perspective, the arrangement allows for an exchange of ideas and stories across three generations. With some effort, the multigenerational household can make the experience an enriching one for all parties.
Larry Lehmer is a personal historian who helps people preserve their family histories. To learn more, visit his web site, send him an e-mail or follow him on Twitter.
Flickr photo courtesy of freeparking.