A multi-level house might feel like the perfect way to share a home your elderly parents. And maybe it is—to a point. As Kevin Chong points out with candor and humor, old dysfunctions die hard. Bookmark this one; you might need to consult it a few times (or a hundred) somewhere down the road.

My wife and I are covering the mortgage for a house on which my mother placed a seven-figure down payment, while I’m taking my mother to appointments, hauling out her garbage, and doing her internet troubleshooting. In exchange, we’re living in a space and a long-gentrified neighbourhood we love, one we couldn’t otherwise afford. We also get free child care that consists of trips for dim sum and lightly supervised iPad time for my eight-year-old daughter.

And yet that narrative still gets steamrolled by the stigma. At an appointment at the kidney clinic, my mom will tell the nurse that we live together. I am always quick to blurt out my qualifiers: WITH MY WIFE! AND MY CHILD! (WHOM I CONCEIVED DOING ADULT THINGS!) ON SEPARATE LEVELS!