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RoseRed135

"How Nana Changed When Her Son, DIL and GC Moved In"...

5 posts in this topic

... Or does multigenerational living change family dynamics?

As I've said elsewhere, I'm reading Judith Viorst's book Alexander and the Wonderful, Marvelous. Excellent, Terrific Ninety Days., about  the time that her DS, Alexander,  and family moved in w/ Viorst and her DH for 3 months, while their own home was being renovated. In the book, a woman in a similar situation complains to Viorst about her DIL's "permissiveness" and what she feels is her GC's resulting "brattiness."  As the mom/MIL/GM explains, she "was aware" of this issue beforehand, but, apparently, didn't realize how deeply it would impact her when she was "exposed to twenty-one days of (it)"  Also, she sadly admits that it has "damaged" her "grandmotherly feelings" towards her GC though she hopes they will be restored after her DS and family move out again.

So now I'm wondering, what's your take. Can multigenerational living lead to any shifts in family relationships and/or any changes of feeling? Are such changes usually for the better or the worse? And, if you will, do you have any ideas to prevent negative changes? Please feel free to draw on your own experience or observations...

Edited by RoseRed135

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I think even if we are aware of some of the negatives that happen in their own home, we "assume" the parents will stay on top of the clutter etc in our home and maybe it just doesn't happen because the clutter really doesn't matter to them either (for an example, maybe it is disrespect of the adults in the house or something else)   So I do think feelings can change. 

I as think if all parties are conscious of things unsetting the household that they can be "fixed"  or monitored before feelings are hurt and relationships suffer.

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10 hours ago, RoseRed135 said:

Can multigenerational living lead to any shifts in family relationships and/or any changes of feeling? Are such changes usually for the better or the worse? And, if you will, do you have any ideas to prevent negative changes?

Our daughter and her kids live in our home. They're actually very careful of our home. She and the kids keep their part of the house clean, do their laundry, and help with the yard/driveways/carpooling. I had some privacy issues that were worked out fairly easily once we made a plan. I'm kitchen territorial, so my husband and I buy the groceries, cook and keep up the kitchen when we're at home. We work away from home and travel 4-6 months a year, ODD and kiddies are great house-sitters. It works because ODD is who she is. High maintenance YDD moving home would likely be horrible. We'd do anything to avoid that nightmare, likewise our sons are not a move-home consideration.

Like everything else, the answer is personality dependent.

 

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Our daughter, son-in-love, and 4 year old Grandboy have been living with us to save money since last Spring, with plans to move into their own home after Christmas.  The family dynamics have definitely changed and it's been a difficult process for all of us.  Before the move-in, I was considered the Super Grandmama who could do no wrong, and be called on no matter what time day, or night, to help out with the Grandboy, whether it was due to job scheduling conflicts, car problems, stomach virus, or the 4 life threatening surgeries that our daughter had to endure.  Our family has always rallied together to help each other through crises and I can honestly say that it's never felt like a burden for me to help them, it's been a blessing.  This is how we love.

I've had a very close and special relationship with the Grandboy due to being his main caregiver during the many times that it was necessary for him to stay with us; oftentimes for the better part of a week.  He's always been a more reserved, observant, type of child, and our times together typically followed a set routine because it helped him deal with the chaos of whatever was happening. Since he could talk, he has been very vocal about his preferences and dislikes, but not his fears, and I was willing to honor that.  As a result, he and I have had a Tom Sawyer, comrades-in-adventure, kind of relationship.  We have adventures, and I listen to what he wants to communicate.  But what he chooses to keep private, I watch for and adjust our adventure accordingly to give him the space to deal with his fears.  In our home, he has a closet nook for his Papa-made bed, spare clothes, and some toys for his adventures and sleepovers.  We had a set routine that he could trust in while at Grandmama's house, even when things got crazy in other places.  Because he was with me so often, I was also responsible for carrying out their disciplinary actions like time-outs and take-aways (though I really hated taking a toy because he was stressed, or tired and acting cranky).  But after a while, Grandboy started throwing tantrums when they would drop him off, but immediately after they left, he was fine.  I chalked it up to just the stress of not knowing what might happen next as this was not long after his Mama had the surgeries.  When they all moved in, Grandboy took over the whole of his room and DD and SIL were given another room for their own.  We thought that all could be well.

Now, before the move-in, there had been one issue with my SIL who mistakenly thought that I had intentionally ignored his personal dietary restrictions against giving the GB a certain water flavorer, but once clarified, I complied immediately, and one issue where my DD had a meltdown due to believing I had made her late for work, and was ready to drive away in a rage with the Grandboy.  Thankfully I was able to get her to leave him with me.  Sadly, there seems to have been no resolution for them on those issues because after they moved in, I started to notice more of a problem in the way our Grandboy was acting around me.  

My husband, our daughter, and our Son-in-love, are very high/fast energy people, while my brother (with whom DH and I share our childhood home), myself, and the Grandboy are much lower energy people.  By this I mean that they are quicker to speak on, or act on, the emotions of the moment (this can be a good thing when motivating someone else, or taking on a physical job), while the rest of us are more likely to observe, think, and process through the issues (often we are the Counselors)  Sadly, since moving in, there have been a few outbursts and conflicts that escalated to shouting on one side, and withdrawal on the other, and these conflicts are all centered on the accusation that I "disrespect them as parents/have caused offense".  It seems to be that this is over some disciplinary methods that I made the mistake of noting even they don't consistently enforce.  I apologized for that, but my SIL took great offense to my bringing it up, and things have never been the same between us.  While my daughter also got upset, she tends to just flit off to another emotion quite quickly, and it seems we are okay.  For my part, I understand that I can respect them, and enforce the method they've chosen, even if I don't necessarily respect the method.  For them, disagreement with the method equates to a lack of respect for them personally.  This is how they see things from their point of view and there is nothing I can do, or say, to make them change it.  We do seem to have come to a peaceful truce for the time being, although not without controversy.  After the most recent blow-up, they made plans to have the Grandboy in Summertime Daycare and to juggle their work schedules rather than have him stay home with me as had been planned before the blow-up.  I'm choosing to believe that this is just a good transition to this Fall's Pre-school schedule, and not in retribution for the blow-up.  I do still watch him when schedules conflict or Daycare is closed.

The most difficult part has been seeing how this has affected our Grandboy.  Not long after the whole family moved in, he began acting out by "ignoring" me (i.e. turning his back, walking away, hiding), using hurtful words, and sometimes physical aggression towards me.  I believe it is because he had previously picked up on his parents resentment/conflict towards me and I think he was literally "acting out" his loyalty to them.  What I find so telling is that he mainly went to these extremes when his parents were present.  This went on for most of the Summer, but when he and I finally had some alone time, he became more like his old self.  What I have to trust in is that he will see over the long term that just because his parents may have, at one time, believed something about me, it doesn't necessarily make it true.  I see this as a test of "My heart attitude and subsequent actions towards them must speak louder than their words about me".  Hopefully as they become more secure, and united in their parenting, and I can reinforce that they are the best parents in the world for him, Grandboy will grow up learning how to navigate through his own conflicts over family dynamics.  

I am happy to say that after recently having a few days where I was again the primary Day Caregiver, Grandboy definitely showed up more as the Tom Sawyer-comrades-in-adventure, little boy he used to be.  While he still acts differently when Mama and Daddy are around, (and even in that he's learning that his actions won't make me love him any less), it's not as extreme, and he's slowly forgetting how to "act out".  He almost seems to have to make an effort to remember to "ignore" me when they are there.  Just this morning we spent nearly a half hour just rolling cars back and forth at each other with the ultimate goal of making them crash.  Grandmama bliss.  

All this to say... What works for me is looking at each individual (including myself) and how they tend to relate to the world, and each other.  Some are reactionary, others are not.  Some are task oriented, others are people oriented.  Any type (including myself) can act rashly when they are not at their best emotional level, and how that rashness appears in one, may not be how it appears in another.  I know that it is up to me to act with humility, grace, and forgiveness, and with the best, and truest, heart intentions I am capable of.  I'm never to hold a grudge against someone who may not be able to do that in the moment; whether they are a 4 year old, or merely acting like one.  All I know is that for better or worse, I'm all for my Adventures in Grandmama-ing..

Peace and blessings.

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@LifeIsGal220 - Welcome! And what a beautiful attitude you have, IMO, towards helping out DD, SIL ("son-in-love" - what a charming expression!) and GB!

I'm sorry there have been some issues, but since they trusted you to be the "primary Day Caregiver" again, recently, I think things are ok, overall.

However, we generally ask members not to post in threads that are more than 3 months old, unless they're the OP (original poster) or it's a "stickypost"/ thread pinned (thumb tack icon) to the front of the forum. Since this thread is several months old, I'm going to lock it now. Meanwhile, I've copied & pasted your post to a pinned thread in this same forum:

 

 

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