But in this economy – who knows? Could boarding houses be making a comeback?
One New Mexico family of five has expanded to twelve thanks to seven boarders weathering the economic storm in their thirty-eight
thousand hundred square foot house.
Georgia and Chris Frankel have three daughters of their own – ages three, six and seventeen – living with them. There are another two teens in the house now, plus their parents and others for a total of five adults. The Frankels don’t require rent, and they’re not rich. Both halves of the couple work, and confess they live “paycheck to paycheck.”
So why do it? They’re paying it forward.
Their eldest daughter was extremely sick, and Chris’ father in the final stages of cancer several years ago. Together, the illnesses put a financial burden on the family, and pulled Chris into a deep depression. He cut back on work, and the family could barely keep their heads above water.
“We learned how to get by when there was not enough food in the house
for the kids,” Chris told CNN. “We had to beg and borrow money from people
to get by.”
Then the clouds lifted. Chris got back to work, and the family stabilized. Their daughter got better. Having lived with family and friends when they first got married, they were no strangers to sharing their lives with others. They started opening their home two years ago, first to one of Chris’ students at the University of New Mexico – where he teaches in the exercise science program to supplement the family’s income. Now there are twelve people chipping in on chores, chipping away at the $1,000-a-month food bill and throwing money into the pot to buy a communal Wii. The Frankels’ kids are exposed to different cultures (one boarder is an Italian-born chef who speaks three languages), and they’re earning a healthy respect for charity.
It sounds like a great idea – if it works for you.
But is this really an option for families? Even families who do have the space, who could turn spare bedrooms into space for boarders? Does this take away from the ability to parent your own kids and give your own kids what they really need – you?
I admit to being selfish here, but sometimes I think my daughter benefits the most from time spent alone with me and my husband – in an environment that’s all about the family unit. She learns her charity outside of the house, gets her culture from the interesting people she meets out there too. Am I just being a Scrooge?