The holidays can be a wonderful time for families to reconnect, whether they are spread far and wide or simply don’t usually have the time to spend together every day. At times like Thanksgiving and Christmas we often gather three generations into one household, though for some, this three generation household is not just a special occasion but a way of life each and every day.
Americans have been slowly regaining the multi-generational household for the past few decades. While the reason for this trend has often been financial, there are deeper spiritual and relational benefits to intentionally planning for a three generation household. As elderly parents approach the later years of their life, almost everyone will eventually face the choice of how to best care for the whole family.
Father Moon said that when grandparents live with their children and grandchildren, the past, present, and future are connected through the family. “When we look at these three generations within the family, it is like looking at the entire universe. The love of the universe dwells within a true family that represents the entire history of the past, present and future, starting with God.” The Unification faith teaches that grandparents represent God in the family. While this concept may not be commonly recognized, it offers a new, spiritual perspective beyond the practical purposes.
If you live in a three generation household, or are considering one for the future, here are a few reminders of why having grandparents in the home can be such a blessing for everyone.
Becoming Closer to God
While retirement communities and assisted living homes do their best to combat loneliness, nothing can fully replace the simple joys of playing with young ones and conversing with growing children. In the fullness of their life, grandparents natural develop a deeper aspect of God’s heart, and spending time with their children and grandchildren gives them the chance to strengthen their personal relationship with God.
Double the Love
Father Moon said, “The grandchildren receive love in two layers. The third generation receives love from both their grandparents and their parents. The love is doubled, and it is from here that the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth and in the spirit world comes into being.” Love that exists on so many levels is a tangible expression of God’s Kingdom. If parents welcome this and work together with their own parents, they can be happy knowing that in the end their child is receiving more love and support than one set of parents alone could give.
A Helping Hand
Having a trusted and experienced set of hands available can give us that time we all need to recharge and regain a level of sanity every now and then. With our parents on hand, simple day to day responsibilities can become just a little lighter. If they’re up to the task, grandparents might even watch the kids for a night so that the exhausted parents can enjoy that date they never have time for.
As our parents approach their later years, it is important for them to receive the spiritual, emotional and physical support they need as they prepare for the spiritual world. For some, the family setting is exactly where they want to spend their final years. For others, more experienced and involved care may be needed. The decision to have a three generation household is a personal and complex one, but it isn’t one we need to make alone. We can look to our community, family and children for extra help and wisdom to give our parents the love and support they need.