Monday, August 14, 2017

Multigenerational households: pros, cons and questions to consider

According to the US Census data, roughly 16% of Americans live in a household with at least two adult generations. The highest level in 50 years. Although the practice is familiarly common in many cultures around the world for centuries, it is growing in the US. More and more people are living in multigenerational households for various reasons and the living arrangement carries a variety of pros and cons. I will discuss each of the pros and cons as well as questions that should be discussed when considering living in a multigenerational household. Is a multigenerational household a treasure or torture or a bit of both?

There are a number of benefits of living in a multigenerational household. First, kids and grandparents have daily access to each other. The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren can grow stronger as they can share in the day to day life experiences. For example, when a child gets an award at school, the grandparents can easily share in the accomplishment as the child comes home and talks about rather than hearing about it secondhand. Second, the adults can share living expenses and thus savings costs on various bills. Expenses such as groceries and utilities can be divided among the adults to ease the financial burdens. Third, with older parents living in the households, they can provide more support in the way of child care and saves time finding a babysitter if an emergency arises. Lastly, adult children will have the ability to provide in home care and keep an eye on aging parents especially when one or both parents loses the ability to living on their own.

There are also a number of cons to living in a multigenerational household. First, the loss of privacy and alone time for everyone in the household. With more people in a household, finding a space where you can be alone and unwind may become harder and harder. Second, more pressure on the main income earners. Especially if the old parents are retired and living on a fixed income and expenses rise, the main income earners may feel the pressure to keep everyone afloat. Third, personality conflicts and clashes with habits and behaviors. With older parents being used to being the parents, there may be conflict over parenting the younger children. Or the constant reminders of “that’s not how I used to do it” when an older parent sees the adult child do a chore or prepare food or even discipline the young children. Lastly, feeling like a permanent guest or host. The constant feeling of not really being home or having to entertain can quickly wear on the adults in the household.

When considering a multigenerational household there are a number of questions to consider. Because with even with the best of intentions, it is a situation that cannot be entered into blindly.

1. Will the move be short term, long term or permanent?
  • Considering the terms of the stay can elevate the possible cons or prepare everyone for the possible conflicts that may arise.

2. Is there enough space for everyone?
  • Trying to fit adults and children in a tiny space will ultimately lead to conflicts and other issues.

3. What will be the rules, roles and boundaries? How will they be decided and moderated? What procedures can be established to resolve conflicts in order to avoid resentments and tension?
  • Establishing boundaries beforehand is an excellent way to avoid conflicts from the beginning. For instance, stating that an individual’s or a couple’s bedroom/bathroom be off-limits to everyone else can help with the privacy issues.

4. Do you offer family meetings to discuss conflicts, concerns or issues that may arise once the move-in is complete? How often should they be held?
  • Monthly meetings should be considered to discuss any issues such as budget and changes in schedules, etc. Discussion on how chores should be divided so everyone knows their responsibilities in the household.

5. What items will or will not be shared? Will food be shared or will certain items be off limits?
  • It may seem like a non-issue; however, frustrations could arise if someone buys something as   a treat for them and everyone eats it before he or she can enjoy it.

6. How much of daily life and events be shared or separated? Will meals be together or separate? Will vacations and outings be together or separate?
  • The answer to this questions probably boils down to schedule and if the family is together during meal times. As for vacations and outings, I would anticipate some to be separate as well as possible family vacations together.

7. What are the guidelines for inviting guests? Do you consult each other when you want to invite a friend over or is everyone free to invite guests over without consultation?
  • It is a sign of respect for those you live with when you consult others about if and when visitors will be invited and at the residence.

In my research, one site suggested that two questions should be answered. First, do you and your parents get along? I think regardless if you and your parents or even your spouse’s parents get along, living together is an entirely different situation than just being able to get along at functions and other get-togethers. Could the living arrangement bring up childhood issues? Can you live with your parents’ characteristics and behaviors? And can they live with yours? Second, are you and your spouse agreeable with the arrangement? Even if you get along with your parents, the bigger question is does your spouse? Having one or more parents living with you can cause tensions in any relationship especially a marriage. Abstain from directing anger at your spouse and guard your relationship as the center which holds the household together. I think the questions I’ve listed above are a good start in starting the conversation about living in a multigenerational household. Some situations may have more or less questions depending on the individuals involved.

In conclusion, even with the best laid out plans, as the new household learns to come together, it would be wise to expect conflicts, frustrations, restricted freedoms, role confusion and loss of privacy until everyone can learn the rhythm of the arrangement or until the arrangement ends, if in the short term. The most important thing to establish is the expectations of everyone in the arrangement. And keep those expectations clear in everyone’s mind as time goes on. Open communication is also key (and it is key in any situation regardless of living arrangements). If you are considering a multigenerational household, list your questions and concerns to be discussed with everyone beforehand. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Girls made of Snow and Glass: an excellent retelling of the Snow White tale

Girls made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust is the re-envisioning of the classic Snow White tale. Told from two perspectives, Lynet (the Snow White character) and Mina, her stepmother (the Evil Queen character). Lynet is the spitting image of her mother who died when she was born and everyone treats her with kid gloves as if she was so fragile, she would break. Mina came into her life when she was a young child when her father, Gregory, a magician and alchemist, came to live at the castle at Whitespring from the south. Lynet’s father, King Nicholas, marries Mina and she and Lynet become close as a mother and daughter. Until a terrible secret is revealed to Lynet and everything she believes to be true is all a lie. Who can she trust now? When a promise is broken to Mina and a tragedy occurs, Lynet and Mina are pitted against each other. Will they become bitter enemies? Or will they join forces when a greater enemy reveals itself?

Girls made of Snow and Glass is an excellent story with a new twist on Snow White. Lynet and Mina are both strong character who aren’t the typical female characters. They are both a bit of damsel in distress and strong females who don’t need a man to rescue them. It was filled with action and surprises at every turn. I could not put it down. There were a couple questions that came up that I feel the story doesn’t answer. However, the book is a great story and young adult and adult readers will enjoy this new Snow White story. I recommend Girls made of Snow and Glass.

Girls made of Snow and Glass
will be available September 5, 2017

in hardcover, eBook, and audiobook

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Girl in Snow: a murder mystery in a small town

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka is the story of a murder in a Colorado small town. Lucinda Hayes was a pretty and popular girl in the small town of Broomsville. She is found cover in a light blanket of snow at the high school’s playground. Suspicions immediately fly about who could have killed her and why. The story is told from three perspectives: Cameron, a loner boy who watched Lucinda from afar, Jade, the outcast girl, who secretly harbored hatred toward Lucinda and Russ, the local detective assigned to the case. Cameron must fight the past as the town has not forgotten what his father, a former local cop, did and subsequently disappeared. Jade tries to befriend Cameron and help him with the scrutiny he’s under as several fellow students accuse him of killing Lucinda. Russ, troubled with the past as his former partner was Cameron’s father, must find the truth among the accusations and innuendos. Who killed Lucinda Hayes?

Girl in Snow is an excellent book. The gripping drama with past and present intertwined as the mystery behind who killed this girl is revealed. I couldn’t put it down. I had to finish it. I had to find out after all the twists and turns who killed Lucinda Hayes! There are so many details that I cannot discuss as it will ruin the reveal of the killer. The story gathers the usual suspects and as one by one is cleared or you think they are, it leaves you with more and more questions. Everyone has something to hide in this small town. I will say that Ms. Kukafka writes a story so gripping that you are on the edge of your seat from page one! I highly recommend Girl in Snow!

Girl in Snow

is available in hardcover and eBook

Friday, August 4, 2017

Everything We Left Behind: what happens one man recovers his memory?

Everything We Left Behind by Kerry Lonsdale is the sequel to Everything We Keep. At the end of the first book, James wakes up from his fugue state confused and with no memory of the prior years. Everything We Left Behind picks up right after the first book with James trying to figure out who he is. Is he James or Carlos? The point of view switches back and forth between James in the present and Carlos in the past, as he tries to rebuild his life once again. But now he has two young sons who only know him as Carlos and a sister-in-law whom he has falling in love with…as Carlos. James must also learn how to let Aimee go, who has moved on with her life. Meanwhile the threat of his brother, Phil’s, release from prison is hanging over his head. His other brother, Thomas, is trying to unlock his memory, convinced that he has very important information locked in his brain somewhere. Will Phil try to come after him? How can he protect his sons? Will he ever remember what happened? Will he be able to rebuild his life?

Everything We Left Behind wasn’t as exciting as Everything We Keep. I waited for the drama with Phil and Thomas which didn’t live up to my expectation. However, I enjoyed the drama and struggle as James/Carlos struggles with his memory as he comes to terms with his life. I only know the basics of how fugue states function, it was interesting to see how Ms. Lonsdale portrays it in this book. Your heart breaks for James as he comes to terms that the life he knew is gone forever and it breaks for Carlos as he knows that he may cease to exist and memory of his life in Mexico will be erased. The story was dramatic and intense as the family must rebuild itself. The end of Everything We Left Behind gives a hint that this story isn’t quite over yet. I look forward to the third book, Everything We Give, which is set to be released next summer. I recommend Everything We Left Behind. If you haven’t read the first book yet, I highly recommend you read it first. You will not be disappointed.

Everything We Left Behind

is available in paperback and on the Kindle

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

What does it truly mean when Jesus says "judge not"?

Lately I’ve been hearing people say “You can’t judge me. Only God can judge me” as if to say my opinion doesn’t matter and they have the right to behave in a certain way. Yes, God is the ultimate Judge (1 Corinthians 4:3-5); however, I don’t think people truly understand when Jesus says “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). To paraphrase Inigo Montoya from the The Princess Bride, you keep using that phrase, I do not think it means what you think it means. Many people quote verse 1 and forget the 4 following verses.

First, Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-2, “Do not judge, or you too will be judge. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Jesus is telling us to examine our own motives and conduct instead of judging others. The traits that bothers us in others are often the habits we dislike in ourselves. Romans 2:1 warns us about judging others in this way. Paul writes “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” It is a warning against rash, hypocritical and unjust judgments. In Luke 6:37, Jesus says “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” Therefore, we are to judge ourselves first. Do we deserve the same criticism? If so, come clean before God and then lovingly approach others about their behaviors or sins.

Second, Jesus continues in verses 3-5, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eyes? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” “Do not judge” is against the kind of hypocritical, judgmental attitude that tears others down in order to build oneself up. It is also not a blanket statement against all critical thinking. This is how many people are using it. However, it is a call to be discerning rather than negative. To be discerning is to have and show good judgment. Jesus said to expose false teachers (Matthew 7:15-23) and Paul writes that we are to exercise church discipline (1 Corinthians 5:1-2). So how are we to do this without judgment? With God’s guidance.

Third, in verse 6, Jesus says “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” In Jewish tradition, pigs are unclean animals, according to God’s law (Deuteronomy 14:8). When Jesus uses the illustration of pigs trampling pearls under their feet, he is saying we should not entrust holy teaching to unholy or unclean people. It is futile to try to teach holy concepts to people who don’t want to listen and will only tear apart what we day. However, that doesn’t mean we should stop giving God’s Word to unbelievers. It means we should be wise and discerning in what we teach to whom, so that we will not be wasting our time.” It also means that we should be careful to whom we dispense advice to because someone who doesn’t want to listen will tear apart your advice.

Therefore, what does this all mean? People use verse 1 as a way to shut others up about what they would deem to be intolerance by giving it a meaning that was never intended. When Jesus says to “judge not” he does not mean that Christians do not deal with sin in each other. It does not mean we are not to correct with respect to God’s Word. If you see someone behaving in direct violation of God’s Word, are you just supposed to let it slide? No. It also does not mean that we cannot make value judgment or assessments on situations. The verses do mean that we are to be careful not to become a fault finder and to eliminate the spirit of criticism. We are to look for the best in people while lovingly correct when correction is warranted. And again, recognize that God is the ultimate Judge and he assesses the motives of the heart that we cannot see.

In conclusion, we have become a society where being judgmental has become a negative word. Yes, many people will form an opinion or view of someone based on very little information. And that is wrong. However, bottom line: when we judge, we need to do so in truth and love. If we judge in the spirit of jealousy or hatred or an overall critical spirit, we are being judgmental and need to seek God’s guidance before continuing. Jesus loved people enough to call people out on what was wrong and speak the truth. The difference between judging someone and being judgmental is love. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Oh Susannah: Things that Go Bump: a story about facing your fears

Oh, Susannah: Things That Go Bump by Carole P. Roman is the second book about a young girl named Susannah who is learning about life and herself. In this book, Susannah is reluctant to go to a sleepover at her friend’s Lola’s house because the house is old and scary. But she’s afraid to tell her parents and Lola why she doesn’t want to go so she goes anyway. While there, she and Lola start to have fun while Susannah tries to push aside her fears. Until something happens that she can’t hide her fear anymore. She learns that everyone has fears and just because something is old and scary looking doesn’t mean that it is.

I enjoyed this book as it is a lesson for children with fears. Like my 5 year old is afraid to be alone in the dark and I’ve been trying to help her overcome this fear. I will be reading this book to her in the hopes that she can relate to Susannah and understand there is nothing to fear. I enjoyed Ms. Roman’s illustrations that everyone has a fear of something and not let fear keep them from enjoying life and having fun. I highly recommend Oh, Susannah: Things That Go Bump for any family or school library.

Oh, Susannah: Things That Go Bump
is available in

paperback and ebook

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Desire's Way: a typical romance

Desire’s Way by Ginni Conquest is the love story of Chase Rivers, owner of Rivers Security and Desiree Maisson, a wedding planner. While on a job, Chase watched Desiree walk by every day until he decided he had to meet her. He orchestrates a way to bump into her and talk with her. He discovers the name of her company and decides to visit her later that day. The sparks fly immediately as the two begin to date and become very close. Everything seems to be going smoothly until trouble comes their way, the two must find a way to be together. Will Chase and Desiree truly live happily ever after?

I’ve been reading romance novels since middle school and Desire’s Way is what I would describe as a typical Harlequin romance. In the book, there’s an instant attraction and the sexual tension builds up fast. I had a hard time enjoying the book for two reasons. First, the format and editing of the book was very distracting. The book started on the left side page when books typically start on the right side. Chapters also started a line after the previous chapter ended. It looks like the author wrote the book in Word and printed it from there. Also the double spacing is very unnecessary in a book. Again looks like a Word document in book form. Another format choice I don’t understand is the author chose to capitalize words that don’t need to be capitalized. For instance, the word aunt was capitalized in the middle of a sentence without a proper name. Second, the story itself. As I said, I’ve been reading romance novels for a very long time. This story is very much like a Harlequin romance where everything happens very quickly. Not to knock Harlequin novels too bad because I’ve read some really good ones that remain on my “keeper shelf.” However, this book is not one of those. I can’t tell you how many times I rolled my eyes and mumbled “oh geez” at certain parts of the story. I especially disliked Chase’s typical macho behavior of “get your hands off my woman” while on their first date! I mean, come on!!! If you enjoy a quick love story, you may enjoy Desire’s Way. However, if you enjoy a true love story with deep emotions and substance, stay away from Desire’s Way.

Desire’s Way
is available on Amazon

in paperback and on the Kindle