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'I'd love it if they stayed forever'

Jenny Seussing beats the dust off a sofa pillow while her husband, John, surveys their basement living room as if seeing it for the first time. ''This is where we don't spend most of our time,'' says Jenny.

The Seussings, with their young son Christopher, moved in with Jenny's mother in December 1981.

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The plan? The couple would have a bedroom and bath upstairs, as well as storage space in the kitchen. But for the most part, they would spend evenings down in their own ''home'' - the basement living room.

''The system lasted about three weeks,'' says John.

''We had all sorts of ground rules,'' Jenny interjects. ''We knocked before coming upstairs, we were supposed to fix dinner on such and such nights. But it got ridiculous. We'd be down here watching the same TV show my mother and brother were watching uptairs. Now if we come downstairs, my mother thinks we're mad at her.''

The Seussings attribute the arrangement's success to open communication, allowing one another room to live his own life, and an already close relationship between parent and children. While parents have varying degrees of enthusiasm about having their ''empty nests'' refilled with grown children, mom Kay Williams couldn't be happier. ''I'd love it if they stayed forever,'' she says.

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