Bridging the divide between generations can be challenging at the best of times. Explaining the choice to live in a tiny house is a complicated one, particularly to people who don’t share the same values. The extent to which we can even say that living in a tiny house is truly a choice is debatable.
Deciding what kind of tiny house you want, if you are going to build it or buy it, which possessions to keep and which to say goodbye to. All these decisions and more demand careful thought. For couples and families these decisions also require negotiation. This process can be fraught.
In this post we will look at some of the reactions Jasmine encountered from her family.
This is how you should be living in America
Jasmine is a 33 year old mum of four. She lives in a tiny house with her husband and children. Jasmine is from the Philippines and her husband is from Argentina. Here, she is talking about her husband’s parents reaction to their tiny house.
“They weren’t the ones who really supported tiny living. His parents were always the one that said ‘you guys need a big home’. They said that each of our kids need their own bedrooms.
You know, they’re from Argentina, so, their mentality is this is how you should be living in America. You know, you need to have this and that, and have nice cars and everything. That’s just how they think.”
Jasmine told me how the situation was complicated because they had to take a personal loan from her husband’s family to be able to afford the tiny house. The same tiny house that her family thought they shouldn’t be living in, and even implied it would be irresponsible for their children to live there.
Growing up poor
She went on to tell me about her own family’s reaction.
“My grandmother’s a hoarder. A real hoarder. And we tried to help her out, you know kind of showing her the minimalist type lifestyle and since she’s so much older and she comes from the Philippines where she grew up so poor, and she had very little, and grew up in a tiny home herself.
Then coming to America, now she has a two-story home, she has all this stuff. And you know, she doesn’t want to get rid of it because of where she came from.”
Who would choose a tiny house?
Jasmine’s comment strikes at the heart of one of the core debates around tiny houses.
- Are tiny houses just for people who are empowered to downshift from relative wealth?
- Would anyone choose a tiny house if they had known material deprivation?
Jasmine speaks to these points.
“We’re trying to show our kids that we don’t have to fit into what normal society looks like to other people.”
She goes on to explain in more detail about her own experience of poverty and how this reinforces her belief that living in a tiny house is the right choice for her family.
“Like I said, the American Dream is that everyone has two story houses and everyone has their own room and so much stuff.
But you know, in the Philippines we didn’t have our own room. We had no toilet. There was no shower, it was like a third world country when I lived there.
So I told the kids, you know, you’re fortunate enough to have a small space. I said, you guys have a bed a bunk bed, you guys have a place to play, you guys have ac and heater. You know, we are really thinking about this stuff. I make sure to tell them like even if it’s a tiny house we are thankful to have all these things.