Many of our grandad, dad and son followers love to be out and about together, often sharing a hobby or visiting a favourite place. But what’s it like to live in a multi-generational household where parents, grandparents and grandchildren spend their day-to-day lives as one big family? Michele Lerner speaks to Roger and Diane Feeley who are currently living with their daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons.
While parents, children and grandparents living together was once the norm in the U.S. as it is in many cultures around the world, American families began to shift to separate households after World War II. Between 1940 and 1980, the percentage of families living with three or more generations dropped from 25% to just 12%. But multigenerational households began making a comeback during the Great Recession and grew exponentially as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold. Today, the Pew Research Center estimates that nearly 60 million Americans live in a multigenerational household, representing approximately 18% of all households.
For Roger Feeley and his wife Diane Feeley, living with their two grandsons, ages four and six, their daughter and their son-in-law has given them the gift of deeper family connections. The Feeleys, who live in a house connected to their daughter’s home in Falls Church, Va., are retired yet they feel needed and valued by their family.
“If we even lived a mile away, our interactions would be much more formal,” Roger says. “Living 30 feet away means that the kids run back and forth at will. Our lives are interwoven with our family.”
In a recent study by Pew Research Center, more than half (54%) of those surveyed who live in a multigenerational household said they find it rewarding. Approximately one-third (33%) said they live in a multigenerational household because they are caregivers, often younger adults caring for elderly parents or grandparents taking care of their grandchildren.
Roger Feeley recalls his mother treasuring her visits to her grandchildren’s homes.
“Her favourite thing to do was to plant herself in a strategic spot and just watch the commotion of the four children in the house,” Roger says. “My other brother with his two children and I with one child simply couldn’t match the fun. Living this close to our grandsons, we’re in the middle of everything.”