House & Home, Parenthood

Multi-Generational Families – Are They A Thing Of The Past?

We are living in a time where grandchildren can go months without seeing their grandparents. Family members can spend more time looking at a photo of their family members instead of their actual faces. Skype is a necessity and photographs and videos capture the memories that are a lot of more special when witnessed in real life. It is a time where families are more far-flung from each other. It is not strange for each generation to live in a different country, never mind a different town. College can mean an opportunity to study elsewhere, travelling is top of the priority list and careers can take people to places they never thought they would visit.

So how does this affect the dynamic of the “modern family”? The idea of a multi-generational family would certainly appear to be a thing of the past. It is now the exception as opposed to the norm. In our parents time it would have been entirely normal for grand-parents and grandchildren to live under the one roof. Houses were full to the brim with family members from all generations. Everyone chipped in with the cooking, routines were in place and there was always an opportunity to have a chat, cup of tea or read a story with someone. Nowadays we are more disconnected from our families than ever before. Technology has afforded us the luxury of being able to communicate with our family at the touch of a button, yet we may see them less than we would like to. It is not uncommon for a close family member to learn important news about you from a Facebook post rather than a conversation. If you are having a party or get-together the invite will most likely be sent online rather than face to face or via a knock at the door. For many families social media is the key ingredient for keeping the family connected.

_BB18630Are we gaining more or losing out with this change in family dynamic? There are pros and cons to every situation but there is a lot to be said for generations mixing together. Our children can learn so much from their grandparents not to mention the “many hands make light of work” argument. A household containing several people generally equates to a shared work-load when it comes to the day-to- day running of a household. There are also other benefits such as our children gaining the wisdom that is associated with the older generations. Perhaps there are important lessons that can be discovered by watching the way our elders do things, even if they are completely different to the way we are taught at school. Our children can learn Grandma`s recipes and auntie`s sewing skills. Perhaps Uncle John has a knack for playing the guitar?

Factors such as careers, travel and interracial relationships will have an affect on where a family chooses to settle. For many people it is perfectly normal to see family a couple of times a year. There is no denying the fact that the family unit has changed in many ways in recent years and will continue to do so. Are we missing out though? Well that is a very personal question but ultimately change can be a good thing right? There is, however, a lot to be said for the simple things in life. Times like Christmas can really emphasise the simple joys of having several generations under the one roof. An example of the extraordinary found in ordinary, if you will.