TLC's 19 Kids... and Counting introduced audiences to the Duggars and new reality genre: giant families. That show may be over, but TLC viewers still have an appetite for big broods: hence the Sept. 11 premiere of Meet the Putmans, a new series about a family of 26 who all choose to live under one enormous roof. Three generations share one household, and the patriarch of the Putmans wouldn't have it any other way. But what's Bill Putman's job, and is it as much of a family-affair as you might expect?
Of course it is! According to a profile in The Huron Daily Tribune, the Putman family business is construction — and according to the Putman Developing & Demolition website, they specialize in commercial construction, real estate, and demolition, and have been in business for over 25 years. So not only do the Putmans choose to live together, but some of them also work together. According to the same Huron Daily Tribune piece, one of Bill's sons, Blake, and one of his sons-in-law, Jaime, are doctors, but the rest of the family is in the construction trade. Every member of the household helps contribute to the constant duties of shopping, cleaning, and laundry that comes with 16 kids and 10 adults sharing a space.
As the Bill says in the show's trailer, the Putmans live in the same gigantic home just they like being together and sharing the experience of raising a family as one big group. While most intergenerational families aren't quite this large, according to the Pew Research Center, a surprisingly high percentage of Americans live in multi-generational homes. In 2012, reportedly 57 million Americans lived in an intergenerational family — and by 2014, it had risen to 60.6 million. After bottoming out in 1980, Pew reports that number started rising sharply in the aftermath of the Great Recession, with more young adults, in the 25-34 range, choosing to live with parents and other relatives in the wake of the economic meltdown.
As for why Americans are living multi-generationally, professor John L. Graham told The New York Times, "This is the way people have always lived around the world ... There's a saving in having family close by." But even if the arrangement makes financial sense, it can still cause tension between the family members. How do the Putmans get around this? By all sharing one bank account, according to TLC.
So when it comes to parents, grandparents, and kids all living together, the Putmans aren't that unique. But with two grandparents, four kids, four in-laws, and 10 children, their challenges certainly are. And Bill's experience as the head of a construction company actually came in handy when they decided to move in together. The Putmans actually built their over 6,000 square foot home, and during the first season of Meet the Putmans, they'll be working on a 34,000 square foot home that will enable them to stretch out a little bit more, according to The Hollywood Gossip.
And according to Bill, he doesn't mind the added expense of living with all of his children and grandchildren. "When the family's all home, I'm at my best. I feel like I'm in heaven. I'm enjoying life to its absolute fullest," Bill said to The Huron Daily Tribune. It sounds like there's no pressure on the family patriarch to provide for the entire 26 member family when he splits the business with most of his children and in-laws, because, as the first season of Meet the Putmans will demonstrate, the Putmans split up everything — including the responsibility of working on their shared business.