Living as a single mom or dad has many challenges. Could living with your parents help in raising your children? There’s a lot that goes into making the decision to move in.
Living with your parents as a single mom or dad is a good alternative to raising a child alone. A single mom or dad gains a lot from living with their parents. Part of the advantage is financial, emotional, and physical support. It can actually be a healthier environment for the child.
This isn’t about living off mom and dad. This is about coming together and teaming up to raise happy, healthy, and well-adjusted children. We’ll discuss how to make this work and why.
Raising Children with Grandparents Help Isn’t New
For centuries grandparents, adult children, and underage children, what we now call multi-generational households, have been a prevalent way to raise children. This isn’t a new concept. Throughout the world this is still a common practice.
In the U.S., we’ve been told to be self-reliant. After the Great Depression in particular the migration away from multi-gen living took place. Parents and their young children left the grandparents’ home to start new lives.
It’s important to still be self-reliant, but in these times, we must also be realistic.
It’s not always practical to run a house and family when you’re single. That’s where mom and dad, also known as grandpa and grandma, come in. They can be a great resource for:
- Physical help
- Emotional support
- Financial help
This additional help can be the difference between a happy, calm life and an exhausting stressful one.
Running a Household is Exhausting
It’s tough. You work all day. The kids are in school or daycare. You rush to pick them up before it closes, take the kids home and get dinner. Then there’s homework if they’re school age. If they’re not school age you’re dealing with children bouncing around the house. And finally, there’s bedtime.
By them you’re exhausted. There’s no energy for anything else. When do you do you do the laundry, clean the floor, wash the dishes? And forget about just simply watching TV or reading a book. Sound familiar? The work that comes with running a home seems insurmountable. You’re exhausted all the time and sometimes short with your children. You know you need help.
Grandpa and Grandma Help with the Day-to-Day Chores
Picking up the children from daycare or school and starting homework is more than a relief. It takes the pressure off. Even if your parents still work, taking turns with this task greatly lightens the load.
Cooking and cleaning are often shared. This doesn’t mean you dump the chores on your parents, you still need to work to keep things neat. But sharing in tasks like cooking, grocery shopping and cleaning, make it easier on everyone.
But it’s not all Mai Tais and Yahtzee. Agreeing on who does what and when, right from the beginning, creates realistic expectations. Who runs the kitchen? Who’s doing homework? Who’s working on the laundry?
You don’t want to take advantage. Making a weekly “to do” list for all the adults and children goes a long way to keeping the peace.
The Emotional Help Your Parents Give is Priceless
Those break downs will come. The “I can’t do this” feeling sometimes sneaks into your psyche. That’s where your parents enter the picture.
You may have just gone through an ugly divorce; or even a civil divorce is heart breaking. There’s a loss. You’re trying to deal with that pain as well as your children’s pain. Everyone is fragile right now. Who steps in with their love and pep talks? Your parents have been backing you up since you were a child. They’ll be there to lend a shoulder to cry on and listen to your concerns.
Even if your parents aren’t the best at communicating it, they’re there for you.
Supplemental Financial Help Goes a Long Way
Your ex-spouse adds nothing or very little financial support. Rent is due, utilities add up and your kids are big eaters. Let’s face it, childcare is expensive. There’s nothing left over for computers or trips to the zoo. Some advantages that may be available to dual parent children, just aren’t there.
There’s more to it than just not having that computer. Children raised in single parent homes are most likely to live in poverty as adults. They are also more likely to:
- Drop out of school
- Experience teen pregnancy
- Divorce as an adult
This does not mean that single parents living on their own have doomed their children. But an option to giving a child more opportunities is available by combining households with your parents.
Even if you pay a stipend rent to your parents, it probably won’t be as much as full rent for an apartment or house. And you probably will be sharing in the food costs. But it’s still much less than running a house on your own.
In some circumstances, if your parents are retired and willing, childcare is taken care of. Childcare is one of the biggest expenses a single parent has. The average cost per week for childcare is $163. If you have help with that, you’re gold.
Downsides to Living with Parents
Defining parenting roles can sometimes be tricky. Let’s face it, children are pretty good at playing adults against each other. This is particularly true if a child wants something. Staying on the same page is crucial.
If bedtime is fixed, then everyone should enforce it. No cookies before dinner, then that’s the way it is.
Disciplining is often a tough one. Who disciplines the child? This should be a firm rule. If the child’s parent is around, then they are the disciplinarian. If they aren’t around than grandpa or grandma step in. Never let the child see a disagreement or discussion concerning them. All aspects regarding the children should be discussed and decided behind closed doors.
Grandparents need to respect the way a mother or father is parenting their children. After all when it comes to the children it’s ultimately their adult child’s responsibility.
Privacy is Limited
Kids are everywhere. Even if there’s only one, they tend to be underfoot. Children don’t go away. You are used to this, but a former empty nester may not be.
Set restrictions. Teach children there are appropriate parts of the house to be in and there are “no kid” zones. It’s hard with toddlers but older children should be made aware of the concept of privacy.
Share the TV. Everyone has their favorite programs. Be aware of this and give everyone, “their time” to watch TV in peace.
Make Sure the Work is Shared
Don’t take advantage. There are many tasks that can be shared including:
- Cutting the grass
It could mean that the parent does all the laundry (including folding), but the grandparents do the cooking. Or trading off periodically is a solution. Sit down weekly and map out tasks. This includes who pick up the children; or who takes Jimmy to his soccer game. Just make sure the work is equitable for everyone.
Challenges are Going to Exist
Anytime you put a group of people under one roof there are going to be some challenges. Relationships are bound to get messy at times. But through communication and planning, these challenges can often be avoided.
Most likely the grandparents are baby boomers, and the adult children are millennials. There’s bound to be differences in values and points of view. Recognize these differences. Look for equal ground after all you all have the same goal. And that is raising healthy, happy and successful children.