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How to Survive Living Under One Roof Again

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Psychologist Susan Newman addresses shared housing in Under One Roof Again.

Psychologist Susan Newman addresses the relationship issues of shared housing.

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The Bottom Line

It's a definite cultural shift, and psychologist Susan Newman is on hand to help us navigate it. Shared housing is a growing trend, whether parents move in with their kids and grandkids, or the kids and grandkids move in with the older generation. Under One Roof Again is the definitive guide to making shared housing work. Subtitled "All Grown Up and (Re)Learning to Live Together Happily," the book addresses such hot topics as privacy, dating and money issues within the multigenerational home.
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Pros

  • Based on actual interviews
  • Interviewees of various backgrounds
  • Thorough examination of relationship issues
  • Positive spin on multigenerational living
  • Well-organized, with lots of lists

Cons

  • Doesn't address home design issues

Description

  • 256 pages
  • Published by Lyons Press
  • Paperback
  • Publication date June 1, 2010
  • List price $16.95

Guide Review - How to Survive Living Under One Roof Again

The forces driving shared housing include job loss, health-care costs and the fluctuating stock market, but these financial forces can produce a boon for families. By living together, the generations involved can reap enriched family relationships as well as coping with the new hard times. That's the viewpoint of psychologist Susan Newman, who delves into numerous sticky issues and comes up with sound and innovative advice.

As an authority in the fields of parenting and relationships, Newman is interested in the structure of the family rather than the architecture of the home. (Together Again is a recent book with more emphasis on the physical dwelling.) Drawing on interviews with those living the multigenerational life, Newman created helpful sidebars entitled: "What Your Parent May be Thinking" and "What Your Adult Child May be Thinking." She also includes suggested scripts for use when hot-button topics arise.

Newman reminds us that shared housing was the norm until less than a hundred years ago. As economic change led people to follow their jobs and the 60s gave birth to the generation gap, independent living became the norm. During those years, "offspring were viewed as failures and their parents seen as enablers" if they remained under one roof. Today, Newman tells us, "[i]ndependence is no longer the gold standard." She maintains that today's families are more likely to resemble a "mutual admiration society" than a hotbed of dissension. She also points out that immigrant families commonly share housing, and that they can be useful models for the rest of us.

Still, multigenerational living makes some atypical demands on families. Questions like these commonly arise:

  • Should adult children feel obligated to call home when they are going to be late?
  • Should dating parents consult their adult children about their relationships?
  • Whose standards of neatness should be followed?
  • Are adult children entitled to have their dates sleep over?
  • Should those moving in offer to pay rent?

If grandchildren are part of the package, an additional set of questions may arise:

  • How much child care and babysitting are grandparents expected to do?
  • Whose safety guidelines should be followed?
  • Are grandparents living with grandchildren still allowed to spoil them?
Newman clearly believes that having grandparents in the home is worth the potential hassles. She points out that having grandparents in the home offers parents a larger support system, grants grandchildren the opportunity to have a richer childhood and gives grandparents the priceless chance to know their grandchildren more intimately than separate living can ever allow.

In the last chapter of her book, Newman asserts, "You Can Go Home Again." Newman's book is a useful road map for those attempting the trip. Newman states in her introduction that she is willing to respond to questions on her website. That's a great idea, because both parents and grandparents are going to need more guidance on this journey.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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