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The New American Family

Meet 6 clans who embody our country's changing ideas about what kinship is

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Vanessa Hua and husband, Marc Puich, relax with their twins and Hua's mother, Sylvia, on the lawn of their shared home in Orlinda, California. — Gregg Segal (Groomer: Tacha Scott)

Living With Grandma

Some 5 million American households include three (or more) generations under the same roof. For one family, both tradition and logic suggested the arrangement.

Modern Factor: Last year, writer Vanessa Hua; her husband, Marc Puich; and their 2-year-old twins — Tobias, far left, and Luka — moved in with her widowed mother, Sylvia, 75. For Vanessa, it was a return to the Bay Area home of her youth.

"I think it's very special to be able to raise my kids in the place where I was a kid," says Vanessa, 39. "You get to think about your childhood and relive it, in a sense."

Having multiple generations share a household is a custom in China, where Sylvia Hua and her late husband were born. But the choice is getting more common in the U.S., because of high housing costs and the growing influence of immigrant communities. Vanessa blogs about her household at

The close quarters can lead to the occasional tiff, but nothing that can't be talked through, says Vanessa. She adds that Marc, 41, who works in software, is "very easygoing."

Grandmother Sylvia, who still works as a food-safety scientist, says she loves living with the twins: "They like to spend time in my room, because I have lots of things there that they want to learn about. Life is more enriched and fun in this arrangement."

Next page: An interracial family (video). »

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