With the cost of living on the rise, more families are moving in together. While intergenerational living can have its benefits, having multiple family members under one roof can make it difficult to set boundaries and agree on day-to-day decisions.
Statistics show that thirteen percent of Australians have had to move back into their family home or have had an adult child move back in within the past twelve months.
We offer some tips on having a happy, healthy cohabiting situation with your older parents or with your adult child.
Set healthy boundaries
Boundaries help protect you within relationships and allow you to establish how you’d like to be treated.
It can be difficult to set boundaries with adult children or with parents, but it’s a healthy thing to do.
To set boundaries in a relationship, you should first identify your values, identity, and feelings. Then, communicate your needs and remain consistent about them.
We offer a guide to setting healthy boundaries here.
Respect other’s boundaries
Someone else’s boundaries are nothing personal and should always be respected. By adhering to someone else’s boundaries, you can keep your relationship healthy.
You can respect each other’s boundaries by:
- Clearly discussing your boundaries
- Respecting each other’s time and space
- Remembering that no means no and stop means stop
- Not snooping, sneaking, or going behind each other’s back
- Not pushing or prying if someone does not want to talk about something
- Taking note of what makes them uncomfortable and not doing that again.
Have all agreements in writing
When moving in together, it’s important to get all agreements in writing – no matter how much you trust each other.
Together, write out important information such as how much rent is to be paid and how any bills will be handled. Written agreements may protect you from future arguments, financial abuse, or relationship breakdown.
We suggest using a general tenancy agreement.
Let go of aged-based prejudice
Different generations often have perceived notions of how the other generations may be.
Prejudice against someone because of their age is called ageism. Ageism puts older people at risk of abuse, social isolation, and neglect. Ageism against younger people may cause relationship hardships.
You can let go of aged-based prejudice by:
- Sharing your interests with each other
- Recognising each other’s abilities and strengths
- Doing activities together, such as games, cooking, or sharing a skill
- Spending time with your family members who are a different age than you
- Asking questions about each other, such as about hobbies, opinions, and experiences
- Setting aside any stereotypes that you may have about older people or younger people.
Cherish this time spent together
It’s all too common for us to not realise the value of the time we get to spend with our families.
Reframing your perspective can help you to cherish this time spent living with your family. Use this opportunity to make memories together and learn from each other.
Making the most of the situation can strengthen your relationship.
Seek professional advice or mediation
Before making any major decisions, it’s wise to seek professional or legal advice.
Seeking advice can provide a neutral, third-party insight to your situation. They can also provide helpful solutions and make sure that the rights of everyone involved are protected.
Family mediation can help you to resolve conflict and to find a healthy way forward.
The Senior Relationships Mediation Service (SRMS) provides free family mediation which prioritises the wellbeing of the older person.
If you or an older person you know need assistance in repairing a relationship, our experienced counsellors are here to help. We can help you explore your concerns and possible solutions in a safe and supportive environment.
You can learn more about our Senior Relationship Mediation Service here, or call 1300 063 232.