Monday, November 28, 2011

Multigenerational Families Around the World

Pema in traditional Bhutan Gho
  Happy Monday after Thanksgiving! As we're gearing up for the December 6th release of our latest signature report, Family Matters: Multigenerational Families in a Volatile Economy, I'm thinking back on my recent trip to Bhutan and India. Both are countries in which multigenerational households are the norm and deeply rooted in culture and tradition. In Bhutan, the only country to measure Gross National Happiness or GNH, our guide Pema shared his country's traditions and spiritual beliefs through wonderful, warm stories. He told us about the four pillars of GNH - promotion of sustainable development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and establishment of good governance. Proposed policies in Bhutan must pass a GNH review based on a GNH impact statement that is similar in nature to the Environmental Impact Statements required for development in the U.S.

Multigenerational households, extended family pooling and sharing resources under one roof, are one of cultural values being preserved. Pema, who is a 26 year old professional guide (and an excellent one I might add), explained that he lives with his parents, siblings, brother in law and nieces and nephews. They are 11 all told. Until his grandparents passed, they were with them as well. Many of his stories were those his grandparents taught him. Oral history carried from one generation to another.

In 1948, the United Nations declared "The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State." As the "family" landscape evolves in the US and families are coming back together in record numbers, we can learn much from other cultures that have long understood we are stronger together. I hope you can join us on December 6th and learn more about our policy recommendations to support multigenerational households. For those of you unable to attend, the report will be posted on our website that afternoon. We ask you to join us in celebrating and advocating for that natural and fundamental group unit-the family-and each and every generation that makes up a family. Best, Donna 

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