A way in which many men can take the lead in their families has to do with intergeneration or shared living. It has become necessary for many extended families to pool resources and cohabitate. This means shared meals, shared responsibilities and many shared benefits of communal support and love.
The benefits will outweigh any liabilities in this life-style if each and every family member makes a few adjustments to their perspectives. At the root of these changes is the attitude of entitlement. Only when that one is addressed can individuals and families deal with the issues of space requirements, bathroom privileges and accumulation of “stuff.” In fact, even families that are not considering intergenerational living might do well to consider the entitlement matter.
The feeling of being entitled in our country is huge. I am not speaking of those who need government assistance in order to live, the so-called “Romney 47%.” I’m thinking about people of all economic levels whose sensibilities are brittle when it comes to sharing space, time, and things.
When I grew up there were five people in a 960 square foot ranch house with no dining room, one bathroom and three bedrooms. Dad fixed the cellar into a nice playroom so Mom could have a dedicated laundry area in the boiler room and we all could cozy up in knotty pine comfort. Later he added on a 14×14 foot porch/family room and a deck. Still, according to today’s standards that was not much space for a growing family. But we made do and aside from the inconvenience of turning the living room into a dining space for big holidays with a folding table, life was just fine for us.
So what’s with the sense of entitlement that I observe regarding living space? I’m thinking of a local town that is now covered in “McMansions” on quarter-acre lots, owners having torn down perfectly good smaller homes because of the need for “space”, usually for families of 3 or 4. Often filling this vast space are multiple pet animals (and not just gerbils!), lots of appliances and electronics, and mountains of plastic toys. It’s little wonder that storage unit buildings have popped up everywhere to house the “extra” stuff “we might need in the future.”
When the freshman class at a major university was polled about having their own private bedroom at home, nearly all hands shot up. Over 50% of them also had their own private bathrooms. It looks like the grandchildren of the baby-boomer are doing quite well for themselves, living in a level of luxury only the very rich could afford 50 years ago.
The attitude of entitlement is the biggest obstacle in shared housing, yet it can be overcome. From the youngest to the eldest, if we are going to band together for a more efficient economic existence, we’re going to have to let go of our entitlement.
What in your life are you reluctant to eliminate or let go of? What of your “must haves” are really only nice options that you can live without? What needs to happen in order for family members to share a bathroom or a bedroom? When was the last time you purged your useless “stuff” and made space in your home and in your life? Do you think there is a relationship between the attitude of entitlement with the way we live at home and the national debt? Hopefully we’ll make the right choices…starting at home.
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