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Give Thanks to the Recession, Families Are Closer Than Ever Because of It

Grandmother with granddaughters
bgreenlee, Flickr

A lot of families don’t have to go over the river and through the woods to get to grandmother’s house for the holidays this year. More and more families are living in grandmother’s house, and getting closer because of it.

Many cultures support a tradition of multigenerational families living in one home, but it has been decades since the US was one of them. Now, because of the current nature of the economy, that seems to be shifting.

In a survey of more than 2,000 adults due for release in early December, 40 percent reported that they moved in with other family members due to a job loss, change in job status or underemployment. Twenty percent cited health care costs and 14 percent said it was because of a foreclosure or other housing loss.

Now, 5.1 million households in the US are multigenerational, according to new data from the 2010 Census. In addition, a new Pew Research Center report indicates that one in five adults ages 25 to 34 lives in a multigenerational home. For me, that’s a rise from 14 percent to 19 percent for men, and from 8 percent to 10 percent for women.

While sharing a home is a great way for families to save money and stay afloat, it is also a great way for families to stay close. Grandparents are getting to live with and know their grandchildren. Cousins are growing up together again. Families are closer in proximity, so traveling for holidays is quick, easy and affordable. And, if they can stand to be in the same house, families can build stronger bonds as they work to support each other.

Susan Newman, a social psychologist, said this is a trend that’s likely to stick for a while. She said, “families have lived so far apart for so many decades” that they are just now realizing that their relatives are “the people they turn to when the chips are down.”

[USA Today]

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