Monday, March 14, 2011

Living with or near parents, for married couples

Recently, I’ve heard and read several discussions about married couples living with or near their parents, and although I think I’ve already written about this subject once, right now I have no possibility to re-read it, so I beg your pardon if I’m repeating what I already said.

There is, of course, a plus in living near one’s parents, especially if they are elderly and frail and need their children’s help. There’s love, friendship and lifelong closeness. Also, the grandchildren, of course, benefit from having their grandparents near and really involved in their lives, not merely visiting a couple of times a year.

However there’s the danger of the parents/in-laws becoming excessively involved in their married children’s private life; sometimes with the best intentions, parents pry into their children’s marriages, the way they run their home and finances, the way they raise their children. It can become a real source of conflict, and far more difficult to bear when opinions clash on a daily basis.

I’m not saying the parents’ experience is not worth listening to, but I do believe that young couples/parents, especially in the first few years of marriage/parenthood, need the necessary space to develop as a new, unique family and a set of parents.

There is also another side of the coin, of adult married children living near their parents and continuing to rely too much on their parents’ help, always asking their mother to prepare dinner for them to take away to their homes, counting on her to become a free babysitter 24\7. And I really do think that in the grandparents’ stage of life, they should be allowed more to enjoy their grandchildren, in a way of less commitment and work, and more carefree time spent together at their leisure. I also believe the parents of adult children should have more time for their own pursuits – the mother of a thirty-year-old married son isn’t supposed to cook meals for him to pick up every evening.

As in many cases in life, “it all depends”. Some people are just so wonderfully tactful they can live together or very near, and avoid frictions. Most of us aren’t angels. I’m of the opinion that in most cases, a bit more space won’t go amiss.


Vintage Mom said...

I thought your post was interesting. I live in an Amish community where often 3 families are living on the same farm and the houses are often attatched. The oldest son, once married, starts taking over some of the farm responsibilities and contributing to the farm growth as well as learning from a much more experienced father. The daughter in law learns many domestic things from her mother in law and yet they still live in different homes. As time progresses, the next generation will move onto the farm and thus the cycle continues. They are respectful of the boundaries and yet are there to help one another and far enough away to "cleave" to each other. If I were to have to take care of my parents, I woud turn their garage into an apartment and move them out and move my family into the big house. We would still have our space, but be able to care for them. This is the agreement that we have had for years as it is our responsibility to care for our parents rather than stick them in a home. It has always been understood that grandparents are not babysitters. An occasional night away or something like that is ok, but one should never take advantage. Just my thoughts...

A Joyful Chaos said...

So true! We have experienced living with parents, living several miles apart, and living hundreds of miles apart. Living under the same roof is far from ideal! I try not to remember that time very often.
Living in the same area with each minding there own business was wonderful. We got to see each other every week and when a real need arose we knew we could count on each other for help. The real needs were few but several instances did arise where we were all glad it was possible to lend a helping hand.
Right now there's almost a thousand miles between our homes. We're okay with that for the most part though it would be nice to have the children able to see their grandparents more often.


Anonymous said...

This is so true, Anna. I remember those first years as a married woman, & having to find my own way, without my parents nearby! Sometimes it seemed so hard, but it did force me to direct my efforts *into* the marriage, & not rely so heavily on what my parents thought of this or that. I must give some credit to them as well....they didn't interfere!


Lady Anne said...

Anna, I agree with your "it all depends" remark. My grandmother would frequently say, "I'm not going to tell you what to do..." and then, of course, procede to do exactly that! For all she resented it, my mother's a chip off the old block. Yes, she's 90 and more experienced, but I'm almost 70, for goodness sake! I think I can handle this, mom!

My parents made it quite clear that they had raised my sister and me, and were not going to start over with our children, and I did the same with my own girls. Going to visit grandmom was a treat, not a daily part of life. I did go up and watch her children for a week when her regular sitter's son came down with a highly contagious illness, but that was an exception, and I really did enjoy it. Of course, long about Wednesday my son-in-law remarked how great it was to come home and have dinner ready and the laundry done, and my daughter stopped him cold. "Don't even THINK about it!"

We live close enough to be a help to each other, far apart enough to keep out of each other's way, and wise enough to treat each other as equals, rather than continuing a parent and child relationship once the girls were married.

And we are very good friends, which is the best part of all.

Analytical Adam said...

The only thing I have seen is that some Grandmothers are raising their children so the mother can go to work because they don't want the husband to go to work.

Secondly, the many cases I see by the way of sons who are taken care by their mothers are divorced women who their son sadly turns into their husband in many ways.

These are the real issues of this issue. In the Jewish world boys are treated very harshly at very young ages and it is terrible and that is why I don't respect the Rabbi's and some of their man made laws at this time including the fact that we don't celebrate the holidays when the new moon really is as we don't want holidays to come out on Friday or Sunday which during the Yom Kippur war the year I was born (1973) the biblical day of Yom Kippur based on the new man was 2 days after the rabbinic day which was the day we started winning.

Sorry if I got off topic. Boys are treated like garbage in Orthodox Judaism and there is nothing else to say because the Rabbi's are afraid of men who ask questions and they always like and make it sound like men have it easy and use them as the ones that are to blame for everything.

Kimberly said...

I think the most important thing when living with parents (did it for 2 1/2 years) is agreeing upon boundaries and rules and then committing to follow them.

Then be honest with each other, if it's not working, FIX it. Don't just stew. Stewing doesn't help.

Siv said...

Hi! Read your article! Very interesting! I'm an adult son married with a 3 year old boy! My family and my parents lived under the same roof! me and my father always had some kinda friction! and at one point it got too much and told that I would leave the house with my family! but instead he said he'll leave with my mother! and they will leave in about 3 days time! It hurts me a lot! after all these years living with them I feel so guilty and so so broken! I love them so much but sometimes its so hard to let go of things they do! I dont know what to do! I tried my best to stop them! but my father is so strong with this decision! I Cant imagine living without them! they are moving within 1 KM distance! thatz the only positive thing in this whole situation! anyway! I just wanted to pour out my feelings! thats all! thanx for ur time!

Anonymous said...

My brother committed suicide a year ago and my husband and I felt that we needed to offer for them to live with us. They have always had a drinking habbit and this is just now at its worse. They tell us how to raise our kids and they try to change the way our household is run. I had a full time cleaner and they fired her cause according to them she was lazy. We both work which means that we need help in the morning to pack bags and get kids to school now it forces us to do it ourself. They drink and fight and then I get in the middle. I really don't want them to live with us anymore but how do I do it since they do not notice how they are changing me. I grew up in a house where there was always parties and fights and I made a promise to myself that I will not become like that. I am the only person in the family with a degree which I paid for part time. My dad has a way to manupilate me and my children making us feel quilty about things that we do or say. I don't want to regret the day that they die that I could have done more but they are not giving up the alchol and it ruined by upbringing and it is happening again

Laura Spilde said...

Very good. There definitely is tension as bible says a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife.

Now if there is poverty such as homelessness or health problems, the family will have to work something out. It is nest not to rely on gov't' sources because that is taxed money and many gov't' don't fully respect practices of faith.

We have has to rely on living with in-laws. There HAS been tension..... but there has been space and privacy too. I think my husband is happier near in-laws in same house cause he was born out of wedlock and no father around.... (sorry typos)his