St. Augustine Catholic
The Nativity Story
Covered in Prayer
All May be One

in this issue... 
editor's notes
saint of the month
bishop's message
from the archives
in the know with Fr. Joe
theology 101
your marriage matters
parenting journey
spiritual fitness
parish profile
around the diocese
calendar of events

parenting journey
role reversals
when a parent comes to live with you

by Dr. Cathleen McGreal

When I was knee-high to a grasshopper - as my grandma would sometimes describe my state in life - I couldn’t imagine a better living arrangement than having grandma, siblings and parents all together under the same roof. My parents were happy to be able to take quiet walks after dinner, knowing that we were safe and sound. My memories of tension are few, but I do recall comments about too much salt slipped into the stew! In talking to my mom recently, I discovered that there were behind-the-scenes conversations about house rules. My dad told his mom that when “push came to shove,” it was Patty’s home. The adults then decided to become an extended family: My parents sold the three-bedroom home they had just built and purchased a four-bedroom “fixer-upper.” What are some other ideas for adult children when their parents come to live with them?

Discuss the reasons for becoming an intergenerational household
Researchers talk about “intimacy at a distance.” A preference among many older adults would be to live close to their adult children but not with their adult children. Talk about why you are making the choice to become an intergenerational household. Is this a financial necessity? Is it an alternative to an adult-care facility? Make sure that expectations are clear. Don’t assume that a grandparent is eager to become a full-time baby sitter - discuss it ahead of time. Be clear about disciplinary roles, cooking responsibilities and other day-to-day tasks. See how this discussion goes before you make any major commitment to share a household. Plan to have casual household meetings on a regular basis, perhaps when you make up the grocery list.

Encourage relationships outside the family
Difficulties are compounded if your parents have had to relocate and come live with you. Family and friends provide emotional support in different ways. Friends are more likely to be confidants and to share generational experiences. Encourage your parents to remain in contact with friends and to meet new friends through church groups or senior centers. If they are physically able, your parents can become integrated into the community through the Foster Grandparent program, by helping the frail elderly through Senior Companions, or even following former President Jimmy Carter’s lead and volunteering for Habitat for Humanity! Giving to others will increase life satisfaction for your parents. Allow your family the freedom of reevaluating your decision now and then to make sure it remains the best choice for all.

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