One big family...but are they happy about it?

Thank God for parents and grandparents -- where would we financially-strapped kids be without them? And more of us are moving back in with them, Amy Hoak reports at

So dust out the attic and turn that office back into a bedroom, Mom and Dad! But it's not only "boomerang" kids returning to the nest, says Hoak. Some older Americans who lost their retirement savings are moving in with family, too.

According to an AARP Bulletin survey, 11% of people ages 35-44 said they live with their parents, and 11% of people age 50 or older said they live with their grandchildren or parents. That means more American households have three generations under one roof.

As we enter an era of more debt, less spending and aging Boomers, you could be living your own episode of The Waltons. And this may not be a short-term trend, at least homebuilders don't think so. They've offered "granny flats" and apartments over the garage for a while, but more of them are building new homes that fit the needs of young and old, and others, like Sidekick Homes, are creating stand-alone prefab cottages that can sit next to the big house.

Then there's the whole co-housing movement, focused on getting people to live more in harmony with their neighbors. I was talking recently to Tom Murphy, editor of the Boomer-focused Web site, who forecasts inter-generational co-housing facilities as a growing trend. He sees communities of Gen Yers, Xers and Boomers living together and helping each other out by bartering their skills -- younger generations fixing their elders' leaky roofs and mowing lawns, seniors in charge of daycare for the kids.

While my husband and I are doing OK for now financially, my mom offered to help us buy a bigger house, which should include a nursery and an extra bedroom for her to stay and take care of her badly-desired grandchildren. I am tempted by the free daycare, but after having spent 18 years under her roof as a minor, I'm not so sure if I could do it again.

Is there an etiquette guide for "boomerangs" to learn how to live happily with their parents without feeling miserable about being in their debt?
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