My daughter and family are moving in with me, but for how long?
Q My daughter, her husband and baby are coming back home from abroad to live. I am delighted and happy they will be staying with us, but a little apprehensive about how long for.
A Congratulations on the reunion, and the prospect of being able to see more of your grandchild. With so many adult children emigrating, you must feel lucky to have the reverse.
However, as you wisely sense, there can be challenges when children fly home to the nest after making it on their own abroad. Similar challenges often occur if a child moves home after becoming unemployed.
“It’s best to be upfront from the beginning in broaching the subject of how long they will stay,” says Brendan Madden, psychotherapist and chief executive of Relationships Ireland. “Family members tend to think they can read each other’s minds, so don’t assume your daughter sees the situation like you do.
“Your daughter and her husband are accustomed to an independent lifestyle but will now be living within your lifestyle, so there will have to be compromise and acknowledgement that a baby disrupts any household,” he advises.
On the touchy subject of “boundaries”, you need to respect their privacy and resist going into the room in which they are living, and advise any younger children to do the same.
Be straight about your availability (or lack of it) for babysitting so that you don’t feel put upon. You worked hard to raise a daughter who learned independence and built her own family abroad, so keep the boundaries clear.
Resist getting drawn into any arguments between your daughter and her husband and never, ever take her side.
Financially, Madden also advises, you should expect them to pay something out of their budget towards your household.
If you don’t need the money, you can always save it, then gift it back to them as a deposit or a washing machine, for example,when they find their own place.
If you are paying for everything and they are counting pennies towards a deposit, you may start monitoring their spending and wonder, for example, how they can afford a meal out when you can’t. It’s crucial to discuss these issues openly from the outset.
Q I am almost 50 and married with two children. My husband is suffering from depression; he is just beginning to turn a corner.
I also help to care for an elderly aunt. She is becoming increasingly demanding of my attention. This is causing tension, because my husband sees no reason why I should jump every time she has a whim to go somewhere.
My aunt is semi-invalid and needs to be driven everywhere she goes. I have never driven so my husband always drives.