Adapted from an online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: In my family, it's customary to live in multigenerational housing. A few years ago, my sister and I really wanted to get into a top school district but we couldn't afford a home individually. We ended up pooling resources between my sister and her husband, me and my husband, and our mother. We purchased a 4,000-square-foot house and we all live here together, five adults and five kids. We love it, there is enough space for everybody, child care is a breeze because somebody is always around.
The problem is that the older kids are getting into junior high and are being teased a lot for this living arrangement. Our neighbors and co-workers make snide comments about it, too. I really don't know how to handle these, what do you suggest?
Carolyn says: What is wrong with people?!
Bulletin: Judging is not a sport.
Please respond by helping others with their imaginations. "Are you kidding? It's such a blast." That is the only answer you need. Not that anyone even deserves an answer.
As for the kids, I hope they have enough swagger for: "You should come over sometime. It's so much fun."
Everything about having to answer that question enrages me.
• There are so many readers envious of your living situation. That you have family geographically so close, that you have family so on the same page that you can live under one roof without killing each other, that you have built-in babysitting, that you have so many hands to split the chores ... fine, it's me. I am the envious one. Congrats!
Carolyn says: Exactly. Thank you.
• A decade or so ago, the [then-editor of Cookie magazine] discussed her and her in-laws' co-housing arrangement. I was very impressed with her description and the photos that accompanied the article. I bet there are plenty of people sharing info about their own co-housing, multigen arrangements online.
Carolyn says: I hope so. Here is an article on Pilar Guzman: nytimes.com/2006/01/12/garden/mortgageinlaws.html. I actually have a version of communal living now and plan to find something similar when I retire.
And it's well on the way to becoming A Thing — adult dorms, retiree friends building little cabin communities. The whole living style of a single-family home in a car-dependent neighborhood is perfect for some, but not for anywhere near as many people as our housing stock says it is. It can be so isolating. Yet the U.S. went all in on the suburban, get-off-my-lawn model of living. Sigh.
• I have gone from having my own bachelor pad to my current house: I now live with my wife, her mom, her sister, her sister's two kids and her sister's son's friend who had a rough home life and came to stay with us and quickly became a member of our family. People ask things like, "How can you stand a live-in mother-in-law?" and, "You?!? Living with THREE KIDS?!?" And all I can say is, "Yeah, and it's awesome." Because it is. If people bring their own judgments to your happy home life, that's their problem that they should deal with.
Carolyn says: Well done, and well said, thanks.
E-mail Carolyn Hax at firstname.lastname@example.org.