Dr Richard C. Woolfson
On the one hand, you’re thankful you no longer have to shuttle from home to Grandma’s and then to work, and back again in the evening. On the other hand, you may have second thoughts about asking your parents or in-laws to move in with you. Grandma is getting on your nerves, contradicting your instructions and wanting to organise household routines her way. And Grandpa’s back to his old habits of leaving the TV on all day and smoking in the house. Rena Sivadas, senior counselor with MWS Tampines Family Service Centre, shares how you can keep sane – and happy.
1. Understand their sacrifice Don’t think of it as a “it’s my house, it’s my rules” situation. Instead, appreciate your parents or in-laws for being willing to move out of their comfortable home of many decades, leaving their neighbours and friends, and taking on childcare duties even though they’re getting on in age.
2. Get regular updates You may live together, but how often do you really talk to your parents? Conversations like “I’m working late, can you put the kids to bed?” don’t count. Find out how they’re coping with the transition – whether they have problems caring for the children, and what kind of support they need. Show them you’re grateful for their help.
3. Talk it through It’s natural that your parenting style differs from how your parents brought you up. So when arguments crop up about how the little ones should be raised, approach it with an open mind and try to empathise with their side of the story.
4. Give yourself a break Carving out time for intimacy is a challenge for couples in extended families, Rena observes. She recalls a couple who were overwhelmed by their many responsibilities and took time off together to recharge. While Grandma didn’t appreciate being left behind with the kids, she eventually accepted that they needed to nurture their relationship. And although they initially felt anxious about going away, the couple realised that not doing so would hurt them.
5. Give them a day off Make sure Grandma and Grandpa have time to catch up with their own passions. They deserve it.
(Photo: Wong Sze Yuen/123RF.com)