There have been a spate of articles taking note of a “new” trend in the US: Multiple generations of families living together. Both NPR and the HuffingtonPost have covered the issue recently and a simple google search will turn up dozens of recent articles. Even home developers have seen the potential lucrative nature of this trend and are embracing the concept. While I don’t have traditional research statistics to support the statement I am about to make, I believe this is not a new trend among Latinos. I have personally experienced shacking up with family, both in the U.S. and abroad and have seen families living together far longer than current research suggests. Check the census record for Lawrence, MA and I bet you find MANY a multi-generational Latino family living under one roof. Given my experience, it does not surprise me to hear that Latinos are leading in this trend in the US. There is a long history of Latin households outside of the US who practice the concept as a matter of cultural tradition, not just for economic reasons. Yes, this is one culture where the cult of individualism has not become the norm.
I think it’s great that more families are living together. The benefits are incredible and go way beyond the economics being pointed out as the main reason for Anglo families adopting this lifestyle. When my parents got divorced, my little brother and I were sent to the Dominican Republic to live with our paternal grandparents. For my parents, it was an easy way to not deal with us while figuring out their new single lifestyles. For my little brother and I, it was an incredible adventure with the added bonus of allowing us to become bi-lingual while experiencing life in a multi-generational , crazy Dominican household. I lived in a home that included grandparents, an older “spinster” titi, distant older cousins and uncles. It was a freaking BLAST, if at times totally nuts and out of control. I did not get time-outs, I got many a Chancletazo and I deserved them. I also got to live with a grandmother in her 70s who ran a number of successful businesses and told amazing stories when the electricity went out and we sat around the candle light. It was an awesome bonus to grow up around incredible role models of strong latina women of all ages who believed they could do anything. For a small kid, it was an incredible gift that has had lasting impact on how I live life.
While the initial reason for Americans might be economic, I hope that by embracing this ‘alternative lifestyle’ they find more fulfilment than just money saved.