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Handling conflict in close quarters

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Many are familiar with “empty nesters” — the middle-aged couple whose children have grown up and moved out of the family home. Their evenings are now quiet, filled with good food, engaging conversation and new hobbies.

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Sound a bit far-fetched? For many families, an empty nest is simply not reality. It’s becoming increasingly common for adult children to live at home with their parents for an extended amount of time, whether the child is in school, saving for their own home or facing other financial or personal challenges. In fact, close to 1.9 million people in Canada, nine per cent of adults aged 25 to 64, lived with one or more of their parents in 2017, according to Statistics Canada — a number that’s steadily risen in recent decades.

Living together as a multigenerational family comes with many benefits, from quality time together to shared expenses and chores. But it comes with challenges too. When adults with different routines, priorities and expectations are in close quarters, conflicts are bound to arise, explains Nicole Munro, a solutions navigator with Family and Community Services.

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Munro is also one of the facilitators for the Crowded Nest, a set of two, free in-person sessions designed for parents and their adult children who live together. The sessions will be held at Strathcona County Family and Community Services (401 Festival Lane, second floor) on Dec. 1 and Dec. 8.

Crowded Nest sessions are a safe place for families to sit down and learn together,” Munro said. “We want families to know it’s okay to have conflict — it’s how you communicate and problem-solve that matters.”

The first Crowded Nest session will explore common challenges in multigenerational homes, whether it be smaller conflicts over household chores or tougher issues related to finances and mental health. The second session will outline realistic strategies to tackle some of these topics, including practical tools for starting difficult conversations, navigating conflict and maintaining healthy relationships.

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“Often, it’s not that families are fighting all the time. When you’re living together in the daily grind, there can be unmet expectations or hurt feelings under the surface. Crowded Nest helps get ahead of those,” said Munro.

All community members living in multigenerational homes are invited to attend both or either workshop. “At the end of the day, adult family members often live together because they want to take care of one another,” Munro said. “We’re here to walk alongside them in that goal.”

Crowded Nest: Multigenerational Family Sessions

Session 1: Exploration — Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022; 6 pm – 7:30 pm

Session 2: Strategies — Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022; 6 pm – 7:30 pm

Register at strathcona.ca/adultlearning or by calling 780-464-4044.

This column was written and provided by Strathcona County staff.

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