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Happy Families - Living Together or Apart?

Updated on March 22, 2012


Happy Families - Together or Apart?


This is not a one-size-fits-all solution by any means, but it is worthy of our consideration.

In the West it has become the norm to fly the nest at the first opportunity. Several generations have done this in the recent past so that it has become the norm. It is a trend of modern living. Single girls aspire to their own space and privacy and think nothing of starting out on their own. Single parent families are part of every community and acceptable now as quite normal. Please don’t get me wrong. I am not making any judgements. Personal choice is always the important factor in deciding which lifestyle to follow. Whatever be our circumstances and past experiences, they will often contribute to the choices we make.

Happy Families

Happy together
Happy together

Apart or together?

Apart or together?

There are pros and cons to every question. So it’s not that one is right or the other is wrong. It is more about at what stage we are in our lives. Youth wants to assert its independence and prove that they can indeed go it alone. After achieving our goals we look for a partner to share them with. In the majority of cases, this will lead to a marriage or civil partnership, or whatever suits the people and their lifestyle. The average family used to be exemplified by father, mother and 2.5 children. These parameters have become widely changed to accommodate the changes in society.

Nowadays, our communities are very different to those of our grandparents and before.

This topic was prompted by a short news item on the BBC this morning. It showed a family of nine living together - quite happily, infront of the cameras at least! Circumstances had brought them to this situation. Grandad had been ill and needed to be cared for in a sheltered environment. The husband of the old man’s daughter became unemployed, their eldest daughter had a baby too. So the different generations were now cohabitating. Brought together by healthcare issues and financial problems, they were all surprised at how well it was working out for them.

Family unity

Family unity
Family unity

Attitudes & Advantages

Like everything in life, our attitude is the key to how we accept what life throws at us. By keeping a positive attitude, this family was making the best of things. They admitted that privacy might be an issue at times, but overall by keeping communication lines open, caring and sharing for each other was turning into a pleasant experience. Simply by accentuating the positives and eliminating some of the negatives it was working out well. They did indeed look like a happy family all sat around a big table playing cards!

The program mentioned that back in 1830 it was normal for at least three generations to live together. Insufficient jobs and housing forced families to stay together in often cramped & squalid conditions. Hahaha! Ironic really that we are now finding ourselves in the same situations . Things have come full circle haven’t they? Hopefully less squalid but somewhat restricted space wise.

As I mentioned on a previous Hub, downsizing & decluttering can be a liberating experience if approached with a positive attitude. The advantages and the disadvantages will be different for each family unit, but this type of living could be a compromise worth considering. For an example, with others within immediate proximity, no more need for baby sitters! No need for expensive sheltered accommodation for the elders.

The list can grow depending on the family’s flexibility. Also some preplanning . Making a granny annex, installing a downstairs toilet & bathroom, perhaps making a rumpus room for the kids. Review ones options. It can make sense in financial terms as well as meeting future needs of the family. We all got to get old sometime right. Better to think about some alternatives now rather than later. The most radical change for many people will be the thoughts of living again with our elders.

In Asia, it is quite common to meet people living in extended families. They are shocked to hear that in the West old people often die alone and may not be missed for several weeks. Yes, that is certainly a shameful downside to how society values its old people.

So to close on a more optimistic note, what are your reactions to the idea of once again becoming one large happy family? Can we make a success of the concept? Is it time to reconsider it as a valid option for the future?

So to sum up - Happy Families or not?

Times and conditions change - Needs must when the devil drives! If it is the lesser of two evils, then obviously one is forced into cohabitation as a last resort. Therefore the attitudes will be less than positive. Any little mistake or compromise will become a big issue. The arrangement will seem flawed from the start. Better to discuss the various options together before the need arises. Draw up a list of Plans, A, B and C. In the event that Grandad or Grandma needs care, there is a plan already in place. If the main breadwinner becomes long term unemployed, sick or incapacitated, there is a plan in existence. There are some safety nets in place. If a plan means relocating then take a test drive . . make it a fun time. Spend a week or two together to see what and where there might be friction. Like everything in life, it is our attitude that is the clincher to success or not.

It is a well known observation . . .that you don't know what you got till you lose it. It is often only when we become parents ourselves that we realize what is involved. We get a new insight at firsthand, just why it was our parents seemed to be so restrictive or controlling. When our own youngsters accuse us of being nags or being old fashioned, we know that everything has moved full circle lol! Time to compromise, cherish and value what our family can become if we soften our attitudes. Love appears in many different guises!

Worth giving it a go don't you think?


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    • christollesseb profile image

      christollesseb 5 years ago from UK ME ASIA

      Thanks billy for stopping by and your comments. Guess we share a lot of the same background feelings. Will surely explore this topic and the emotions inside. Ciao for now, Christo.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I really enjoyed this hub and I would love to hear more about how you believe adoption affected your life. I have written in some length on that and in all honesty I'm still not sure of all the ramifications it has had on my life and all of my beliefs that are affected by the adoption.

      Anyway, I'm rambling...thank you for this excellent hub!

    • christollesseb profile image

      christollesseb 5 years ago from UK ME ASIA

      Dear Nonna,

      Again, I am so pleased to meet you and thank you for your fan mail! Your hubs will be read with great interest.

      Your optimism is a great inspiration for us all here.

      Ciao for now, Christo.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

      This subject is near and dear to my heart. I love your statement families can be heaven or hell. And yes, we have come full is just too bad that people can respect each other enough to make it work even out of necessity. I know of, at least, two situation where children have had to move back home and it became a nightmare for the parents.

      My oldest son live in another State and youngest about an hour from me....We had good relationships when they were growing up...we have good relationships now...but I wonder if either or both had to move back home...both are worried about their careers. I can only pray that things will work out regardless of what the future has in store.

      Great hub. Voted up and interesting.

    • christollesseb profile image

      christollesseb 5 years ago from UK ME ASIA


      Many thanks for your comments. I agree, it is the luck of the draw. Friends we choose, families are heaven or hell. Often after living apart we can grow to appreciate them if not actually love them. Maybe because I am adopted I have a different view of family life anyway? Maybe that will be something for another Hub . . . Ciao for now, Christo

    • ALUR profile image

      ALUR 5 years ago from USA

      I like the optimistic edge to this though really family can be at times the first that demand of you conformity. I believe that with kindness and love(both a challenge for me) I can accept my family for their good in the world without nec. being a part of their world that sometimes is fixed and filled with judgement.