Moving in Grandma - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-01-2012, 05:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Kind of long. Sorry.

 

My toddler son's paternal grandmother has been a good friend of mine for quite awhile. She's the one that initially introduced me to her son, and set about giving a none too subtle push to give each other a shot. We did (clearly), but it didn't work out. I found out I was pregnant with DS after I had already moved states away. His father hasn't had any interest in forming a relationship with DS, but I've maintained regular contact with her. Recently, the father started denying that DS is his child. I don't particularly care. Grandma got upset, though, and got on him about it. He called her some terrible names, kicked her off his property, and now refuses to speak to her or allow her to see her granddaughters anymore. She's been wanting to move down here for awhile now, and now she has nothing left up there and is trying to find a way to get down here with us. She's been battling depression for a long time now, and her relationship with her son has been strained at best for quite awhile. I'd like to have her here, and I think it would be great for DS to have a relationship with family other than myself and DD. The only income she has is disability, and it would be difficult for her to find anything in her budget other than low income housing (which is where I'm moving to), but the wait list tends to be pretty long, so I plan on putting her on my application, getting her a bus ticket, and having her move with me instead of getting her down here without a long term place to live. I figure financially it makes more sense to live together than separately, and since this will be the first time she's left the area she has lived all her life, it would be good for her to stay with someone she knows.

 

The problem is that I do things very, very differently from what she is used to, and she's not really aware of just how different. She tries to keep an open mind (one of the things I love about her), but she's always lived in a very conservative area where everyone pretty much does everything the same way and has never really been exposed to alternative parenting or lifestyle decisions. In my experience, coming down here is a bit of a culture shock on it's own. Also, she's feeling very insecure about how she has done as a parent. Although we've functioned wonderfully as friends, now she isn't just my friend. She's my child's grandmother, too. I'm worried about how things are going to go once she's confronted with the choices I've made in regards to the children that are going to seem bizarre to her. I'm really scared of our relationship being damaged by this move, but at the same time, I feel that getting her down here is really important. .

 

She already knows that I have been breastfeeding DS far beyond what she considers normal (he is 17 months), and although she did raise concerns recently, I mentioned that WHO recommends breastfeeding for at least 2 years, and she dropped it. She knows that he does not eat dairy products, which she assumed was due to him being lactose intollerant (partly true), dropped it, and I didn't find the need to clarify at the time. She knows I cloth diaper, which she is totally cool with. She is not aware that we don't eat meat, aren't Christian, avoid most processed foods, GMOs, HFCS, food dyes, etc., don't watch TV, homeschool, use family cloth, avoid plastics (especially in regards to toys), don't spank (or "swat"), and the list goes on. A lot of that I don't think she will be as open to. I'm perfectly fine with bringing meat into the house for her (just not for the kids or myself), getting a TV for her room (again, just not for the kids to use), having toilet paper for her, etc. I want her to have what she's used to within reason. I'm just not sure how to gently introduce her to the way we live that won't leave her running back up north freaked out and ranting about the crazy hippie lady that has her grandbaby. She's used to giving a grandkid a swat on the butt for misbehaving (which was fine by the parents of her granddaughters), pushing junk food and soda, sitting in front of a cartoon to socialize with little ones, parents never breastfeeding past 3 or 4 months if they breastfeed at all, CIO, that sort. She really is a complete sweetheart, but that's how everyone does things there, and she's never known anything else.

 

Any ideas on how I can make this transition easier for everyone involved?

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Old 01-02-2012, 04:14 AM
 
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We moved my mother in with us several years ago.  I would say, speaking from experience, that it is imperative that you talk with grandma before you buy that bus ticket and make sure she knows exactly what your lifestyle is like.  You don't want to spring this on her when she moves in and then try to work through your differences of opinion after the fact.  There need to be clear boundaries, and I would even get it in writing.  I know that sounds heartless, but when you have two people living under one roof and both of them are mothers, you are going to get conflict and it's important to have guidelines for how the conflict will be handled.  Let her know your "hippie" ways and talk to her about the fact that she's to respect that. Likewise, let her know that you will respect her personal differences, but that when it comes to your kids, there is no room for compromise and she has to leave the parenting to you.  No swats, no soda, no spongbob.  Period.  And be firm.  Another thing... is this a permanent arrangement or just until she is able to get a place of her own?  What happens if it *doesn't* work out?  In our case, we knew mom would be with us until the end and there was no alternative.  We had no choice but to cooperate and respect.

 

My mother is now lying in a hospital bed in the room off of my kitchen, dying (probably within the next day or two), and in spite of our differences over these years, I would not change one thing and am glad that we have been there for each other these years.  It has been a HUGE blessing having her here and we are all going to miss her greatly.  Likewise, us supporting her has enabled her to not worry about how she would manage these final years of her life nor wonder where she would be when these final days came. I do wish we had established boundaries right off the bat, but we worked through them and neither of us, at this time of life, have any regrets.  I think having your ds's grandma move in can make your life and her life so much easier, but an open line of communication is key.  It can be a wonderful blessing or it can be a horrible curse to have a multi-generational household.  Good luck!  I hope it works out as well for you as it has for us.

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Old 01-02-2012, 08:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Whether or not it is to be permanent is still up in the air. We are both open to the idea especially since I'm working towards getting back on my feet so I can buy a little land elsewhere and homestead in a couple years  (which she likes the idea of), and I would prefer she be with us for that. I can see a lot of positives in the idea of having her here permanently, supposing we're able to handle our differences. Right now I'm thinking about getting her in with me, and then having her go ahead and apply for her own apartment after she gets down here. It's a pretty decent wait, and I'm thinking by the time her name comes up, we'll have a pretty good idea whether or not we have any business continuing to live together. If we're all happy sharing the same home, she can always just take her name off the list and they can move on to someone else. If not, once her name came up, she'd have her own place nearby.

 

We talked last night, and discussed possibly having her make a trip down to visit first, then making a decision from there. Financially it's going to kind of difficult to manage paying for two trips, but I think I can swing it if nothing unexpected comes up between now and the time I move. A visit first would definitely help with seeing whether or not she's going to be able to deal with the way we live. We talked a little about some of the differences while we were on the phone. I'm noticing that pretty much anything I do outside the norm that ends up being less expensive she seems to be pretty receptive to, which is great, because a lot of the things she'll likely consider weird are major money savers for us (i.e. family cloth) even if that isn't the only reason I do them. I also brought up homeschooling (something most people in that area frown on), and she said that DD is brilliant and doing so well, so obviously I know what I'm doing and she hopes I'm able to do it with DS when he's older. So far, she's been more open to a lot of things than I thought she would be, and that's a huge relief. Haven't really hit the more touchy areas yet, though. Being screen-free, vegetarianism, and no spanking are likely to be the biggest problem areas, and I've been pretty nervous about bringing those up.

 

The firm boundaries is probably going to be the hardest part for me. With nearly anyone else, I have no problem with it, but then with most people I'm not too concerned about hurt feelings when it comes to my family. I usually go with a blunt "This is what works for us. It isn't open for discussion," and then pass the bean dip. I don't think that would go well with her. I'm pretty sure so bluntly shutting her down would result in hurt feelings and resentment. You are definitely right that I need to be clear about boundaries, though. I can easily see her serving DS a hamburger and a Mountain Dew and cuddling up to watch a Disney flick with him with the absolute best intentions. But my head would spin, I may or may not breathe fire, and it would breed resentment on my part, especially since I've never co-parented with my own children, and don't share well when it comes to them. I definitely don't want to see issues come up that could have been prevented by me speaking up in the first place. At the same time, I think maybe I need to figure out areas I could become comfortable with stepping back on and letting her form her own special relationship with the kids. The more I think about it, the more I realize I'm likely to be just as much of a problem as she is, because I am very particular about what the kids are exposed to as young as they are, and at least since DS arrived, I've been able to pretty well control that. Never having had to co-parent and not having a relationship with my own family since DD was very little, I haven't had to deal with anyone that I felt had any business having an opinion on how I choose to parent them. There are a lot of areas I'm not willing to budge, but I think maybe I should find areas where I can bend a little. I'm worried about sabatoging Grandma's relationship with DS and my relationship with her by too severely limiting what she can and can't do with him.

 

Wow, that was long. I guess I have a lot of processing to do.

 

It's great that things have worked out so well with your mother and that she gets to live out her life with loved ones. I think that's what I'd like to see come of our situation. She likely has a good many years left, but in the end, if she isn't with us, she'll be alone, and that's a terrible thought.

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Old 01-02-2012, 08:50 AM
 
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Oh my.  I think a lot would change honestly.  She may be very receptive to most of it except for the family clothe.  My mom would freak out about not watching TV.  We have one and we only watch football and sometimes a little tv with the kids.  But honestly kids that don't watch tv can't really sit through much of it.  Mine are so used to just playing they can't fathom being in front of  a tv for so long.  I think she'll get the main idea though.  Once she sees them playing and enjoying life without a lot of screen time she may just sit back and really like the way things are.  I think your visit idea first is the best way to go. 

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Old 01-02-2012, 05:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post

We moved my mother in with us several years ago.  I would say, speaking from experience, that it is imperative that you talk with grandma before you buy that bus ticket and make sure she knows exactly what your lifestyle is like.  You don't want to spring this on her when she moves in and then try to work through your differences of opinion after the fact.  There need to be clear boundaries, and I would even get it in writing.  I know that sounds heartless, but when you have two people living under one roof and both of them are mothers, you are going to get conflict and it's important to have guidelines for how the conflict will be handled.  Let her know your "hippie" ways and talk to her about the fact that she's to respect that. Likewise, let her know that you will respect her personal differences, but that when it comes to your kids, there is no room for compromise and she has to leave the parenting to you.  No swats, no soda, no spongbob.  Period.  And be firm.  Another thing... is this a permanent arrangement or just until she is able to get a place of her own?  What happens if it *doesn't* work out?  In our case, we knew mom would be with us until the end and there was no alternative.  We had no choice but to cooperate and respect.

 

My mother is now lying in a hospital bed in the room off of my kitchen, dying (probably within the next day or two), and in spite of our differences over these years, I would not change one thing and am glad that we have been there for each other these years.  It has been a HUGE blessing having her here and we are all going to miss her greatly.  Likewise, us supporting her has enabled her to not worry about how she would manage these final years of her life nor wonder where she would be when these final days came. I do wish we had established boundaries right off the bat, but we worked through them and neither of us, at this time of life, have any regrets.  I think having your ds's grandma move in can make your life and her life so much easier, but an open line of communication is key.  It can be a wonderful blessing or it can be a horrible curse to have a multi-generational household.  Good luck!  I hope it works out as well for you as it has for us.



This is all very good advice.  Velochic, I'm sorry to hear that your mom is dying.  You've taken really good care of her. 


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