We are going to be moving in with my father-in-law and his 15 year old daughter, my husband's half-sister. We have a month old daughter. What types of things should we (my husband and I) plan to expect living with extended family? Discipline, shared responsibilities, differences in opinion, etc?? We will probably live with them for 3 years.
I'd want to know what space I could count on being safe-- ie no one would come in without invitation. Is that my room, my room plus another room, the whole basement... you get the idea.
I'd want to know if groceries were shared or if I was expected to keep my own separate. I'd want to know if chores like cleaning, cooking, shopping, and laundry would be shared or scheduled or just catch as catch can.
I would not expect my FIL's opinion on parenting to matter a whit. I would expect that he would stay out of my parenting business, and wouldn't want his opinions to influence my decisions. If he got oppressive about his opinions, I'd look elsewhere for housing. Your parenting is your own.
Here's what we did from the other point of view. My dd and her family (her, her dh, son 3, daughter 1; their 2nd son was born while living with us) moved in with me, dh (her father), and our son (her brother; then 10). At first her son shared my son's room and her dd slept with them. But a 7 year age span didn't work so I gave up my sewing room so the 2 grand kids (later 3) could have a room of their own. We shared groceries and house hold chores. Since her dh was going to school online, they paid the cable bill (TV, computer, and phone). We paid utilities and rent. They watched my son when needed; I watched theirs when needed. Parenting was done by them and we backed them up (Did you ask your mom/dad? What did they say? What would they say if I asked them?) I usually made breakfast and my daughter and I alternated dinner or cooked jointly. She usually made lunch for her kids. My son being older, was on his own for lunch. We all changed diapers and watched the baby. I think that things went smoothly in part because I was still parenting myself. It also helped that dh and I acknowledged my dd and her dh's role as the parents of our grandchildren. We had made our parenting mistakes. it's now their turn as adults and parents.
I grew up in a multi-generational house (me'n my sibs, parents, maternal grandparents) that my mom grew up in multigenerationally, and her dad grew up in multigenerationally, and his mom grew up in multigenerationally, and that her parents or grandparents (forget which) built.
In a couple of years our family will move back there to do the same---me, my husband, our kid(s), my parents, and maybe still my grandfather.
It's a big old farmhouse and it's actually built almost like a duplex with a central hall/staircase and then, on either side of that, a separate living/kitchen/dining area for each generation (counting the young family as a unit).
Upstairs each side has its own bathroom and three bedrooms. The washer/dryer is shared.
If my grandfather has passed by the time we move back things will be simple as far as living space (our family will take over his half of the house); if not, it will be a bit more complex. I will be his primary caregiver if he needs care. He'll probably keep his downstairs and we'll take his upstairs, sharing my parents' living/dining space.
I don't have any insight into this from the parenting perspective, but as a young child it was pretty great. My grandparents never visibly interfered with my parents' parenting, but were available for childcare backup. We lived parallel lives; when gramma was living she fixed all the meals for her and grampa, and they ate together on their side of the house except for holidays or other special occasions (birthdays, etc) when we'd all gather in the biggest living space available. After gramma died, my mom invited her dad to come share meals with us, but he likes his own space and to watch TV while he eats, so now she cooks and carries the tray over.
Unsure exactly how finances were managed. There's no mortgage on the house, obviously, and it's in my grampa's name (will be in my mom's after he passes). I imagine everyone chipped in for taxes and utilities. I think now, because my parents do all the cooking, they also pay for all the food, but possibly grampa pays for all the utilities. Dunno.
My parents and husband and I have discussed at some length how we might work it when we move back (need to finish remodelling and sell our current house). I think we'll just split fixed expenses among all available incomes. My husband will be the stay at home parent; he's also a carpenter and this 1850's house needs EXTENSIVE work so that will be his big contribution besides childcare. Both my parents are still working and I probably will be too. I think I'd like to do more meal sharing.
BUT I am really really interested to see how this works for others! Is there anyone else, like me, planning to live with extended family as a permanent arrangement rather than a temporary one? (Not like I'm not excited to hear from the temporary folks too, 'cause I am!)
My brother, SIL & nephew are living with my parents right now and I don't know the full arrangement, but I know that their room is their private space and they know what areas they should keep out of and areas that might also have a no kids rule. My brother & SIL are responsible for cleaning the 2nd floor spaces they use (my parent's bedroom is on the first floor) and they help with cleaning common areas (I don't think they have a set arrangement as both my Mom & SIL are very tidy so they will be in competition to clean, but it isn't a bad idea). They all eat together, so not sure how they are splitting the grocery bill. Utilities and/or rent is something to work out as well, not sure my brother's arrangement. As far as disciplining, I'd make it very clear that you and DH are the parents and make sure to put your foot down early and often if your FIL tries to trample on that.
But again definitely work it out now before you move in, don't try to guess what he wants and don't make him guess what you want, it is much easier to do it now than to be stuck in a situation where everyone is resentful because expectations were not reconciled.
Katie - Married to Mike 06/02/01, Mom to Sydney Anne born 11/21/09 and Alice Maeryn & Oliver Thomas born 04/24/13
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