When your parent starts to become less independent, should he or she move into your house with you and your family? In an idyllic world, of course your parents would move in with you. Isn’t that what family does – stick together? However, in the real world, the decision isn’t so simple.
Unlike when our parents were younger, most women today work outside the home and many adult children no longer live in the same town as their elderly parents. So when a parent starts to lose their independence, it isn’t so easy to integrate him or her seamlessly into the daily routine because most of the daily routine takes place outside of the home and in many cases, out of town.
Yet, despite this drastic change in society, the gut reaction from both parents and children to the question of should Mom or Dad move in often remains “yes, of course, because we are family.” It isn’t until Mom or Dad is settled in that the reality of just how disruptive and impractical a solution this can be in today’s households rears its ugly head. As the frustration and stress from this traditional, but no longer necessarily sustainable solution mounts on both sides, so does the disillusionment and guilt.
Some families escape this fate and are able to integrate Mom or Dad into the daily flow with minimal stress or disruption. However, in the more norm than the exception cases these days, this is not the result. In those cases, the situation is made even worse because guilt on the part of the children and disillusionment on the part of the parents make acknowledging that this was a mistake an unthinkable action. So, instead of working together towards a healthy solution, each side suffers in silence until the tension becomes unbearable.
You don’t have to suffer in silence. It is ok to realize that the solution of yesterday may not be the solution of today. It doesn’t mean the parent is unloved or the child is selfish or the family is dysfunctional. It just means that times and things change and our expectations need to change as well. There are many safe and enjoyable alternate options for Mom or Dad today that didn’t exist before.
So, if the question of should Mom or Dad age at your place comes up, look past your emotional gut reaction of “yes” and really think through the reality of that question with your parent. Taking the time to explore all the options doesn’t make you a bad child who doesn’t love your parent; it actually makes you a child who loves your parent enough to spend the time to seek the best answer to the question rather than just accept the default answer to the question.