Live, Love, Blend:
But Please Don’t Bring Your Mother
80% of Americans are related in some way to a blended family, and the numbers are increasing every day. As the definition of family changes, the expectations of extended family will likely change as well. My family has always joked about who is going to take care of the grandparents in their old age, but each passing year makes that less of a laughing matter.
How do we navigate the challenges of elder care? In other words, if a parent becomes unable to live alone, will they move in with your blended family? Have you and your spouse discussed the possibility? Better to discuss now than argue later.
We had an awkward conversation about this at our house last weekend, as my husband’s mother was in town for a visit. She lives out of state, and I’ve always known that my husband wishes she would move closer. What I didn’t realize was just how close he had in mind!
Yes, he wants her to move in with us.
Luckily for me she’s not currently interested in moving, so we’ve got some time for further discussion. But to be honest it’s not one I’m looking forward to. Here’s our dilemma. These are the bullet points my husband makes:
- His mother is in poor health and no one in her current household looks after her needs, a fact that will only get worse as she ages.
- The small town in which she resides has very limited access to medical care.
- He loves her and wants to take care of her.
I love his heart to help a loved one in need so I feel a bit guilty even bringing up contradictions, but somebody’s got to do a reality check right?! Check out my bullet points and let me know if you think they are based on fear or true concern for my sanity:
- Our parents have all divorced and remarried, so we have a total of 8. Will they all come live with us? How do you decide?
- Unlike a grown kid who is slow to move out of the nest (yes, we’ve got one of those too), an elderly parent will stay indefinitely. What if it’s 20 years?
- A kingdom cannot have two queens. How do two women with strong personalities live together in harmony?
Given enough time I could probably come up with bullet points to fill a book, and if I’m really going to be honest here, these haven’t even hit on my biggest fear…
I’m afraid they’ll gang up on me. Mothering a blended family can be really hard. Husband and wife must be a united front in dealing with the kids. Whether it’s rules, discipline, chores, grades, money… it’s challenging not to fall into good cop/bad cop. We work through this on a daily basis (some days better than others). I’m afraid that my husband and his mother would unite in decisions regarding the family, which would move me to the permanent “bad cop” position.
Related: Live, Love, Blend: Pick a Side
Perhaps I worry too much. Blended family dynamics are always changing. I suppose we’d roll with this one just like we do with all the others. Have you had a parent move in?
I’d love to hear the good, bad and the ugly stories of making it work.