Three years ago my mother-in-law moved in with us. Today we have a wonderful arrangement, but getting there was a little bumpy.
We never had big problems. We did have some little ones. The fact is, my mother-in-law is a sweet, easygoing person who is a pleasure to be around.
The real problem was me.
I was unprepared for this change in our life and lifestyle. I became resentful and turned into a complaining, crabby monster.
The old line goes, "I wish I knew then what I know now." So what would I do differently?
First, I would have looked at the situation from my mother-in-laws' perspective. I would have seen how difficult it must have been to give up an independent life. I would have given her more consideration for the major change to "her" life. Second, I would have talked more openly with my wife about things that concerned me, instead of throwing them at her. I would have been more understanding overall. It's easy to look at things in life from our own perspective.
Complaining about things is the easy way out. Understanding, and willingness to listen takes time and effort. I have found that this is the only way to make this complex family dynamic work. Here are some basic tips:
-Have a frank and open discussion with your parent about what is being considered
-Go over the logistics of the new living arrangement
-Consider financial situations
-Think about medical needs for your parent
-Work out some basic guidelines for both sides
-Consider your parents situation
-Commit to being open, and honest
-Go into the new arrangement with a positive attitude
-Accept, and understand
Today I have learned all of these things. Our life together is fulfilling. I am not resentful.
I just wish I had handled things better.
If you are considering having your parent "Move in" I would recommend that you really think it through. There should be a discussion upfront about how everybody is going to live together.
The key thing is that your parent should be seen as a member of the family and not a guest in your home.
It can work, you just have to establish an open communication and show consideration.
I wrote a book with a well established co-author Shira Block,who had years of experience caring for her own elderly parent. The book, When Your Parent Moves In
came out the summer of 2009! As far as I know it is the only guide on this subject. Three years ago a book like this could have spared a lot of feelings for my family.
Like any family commitment, this one takes love, patience and hard work. I know you will find, in the end, it's worth it to everyone.