One advice everyone tells newlyweds is to leave and cleave, which basically translates to leave your parents’ house and make a home of your own with your partner. But the truth is, this is easier said than done for a variety of reasons. A number of couples might consider staying with one set of parents because they want and need to take care of their aging parents, some might consider it due to logistics — their parents’ home is better-located to work or the city, while others stay because of financial reasons — it’s simply more economical to maintain one home than two.
Whatever the reason, one advantage of living with your parents is that you can rely on them to watch your kids while you’re off to work. And even if you do opt to hire a nanny, they’ll still be there to supervise and help out. However, the downside of this setup is that your parenting style might differ from theirs and you might find it difficult to parent your own kids in the same roof.
So what do you do when you and your parents or in-laws clash over parenting your kids? Here are a few tips:
Set boundaries early.
Whether you already have kids or not, it’s best to set boundaries early on. If you want your parents or in-laws to respect you as a couple or as parents, then sit them down for a family meeting and discuss everything. It can be as simple as asking them to not enter your room while you’re not there, to the nitty-gritty of what’s allowed or not for your kids. Setting clear boundaries right from the start can minimize the amount of stress, drama, and hurt feelings that unclear boundaries can bring.
Some rules you can set that’s related to your kids can include everything regarding their overall diet, screen/TV time, nap and bedtimes, and the times they are allowed to intervene or not when you’re disciplining your kids — such as not barging in every time they hear the kids cry.
Enforce the discussed boundaries.
Talking about them is one thing, enforcing them is another. Simply put, stick to your guns and do not give them an inch of wiggle room. Yes, they are your parents or in-laws but in the same way that you are capable of deciding to start a family of your own, you are also capable of deciding how to run that family yourself. Plus, this is the reason why the boundaries were discussed and set in the first place, so if they are overstepping it, gently remind them that you have an agreement as adults.
Always be respectful.
Although you might have set your own boundaries, always remember that it is still their home. And while they might have welcomed you and their grandkids with open arms, try to still be respectful of them and the way they run their household. You might not like how they organize the kitchen or how they do their laundry, try to conform and do it their way as much as possible. Trying to impose your own way in their home might result to conflict and stress. The same goes for your kids as well — train them to keep their things tidy and remind them to keep their noise at a minimum especially at times when the grandparents are resting.
Remember this rule as well whenever you’re reminding them of the boundaries you’ve agreed to especially when it comes to parenting your kids. Always try to keep calm and maintain a clear head.
Ensure that you have some privacy.
Everyone needs a bit of privacy sometimes — parents, grandparents, and even kids. This might be a bit challenging living in one home and in close quarters to each other, but try to ensure that everyone can get some privacy whenever they need one. If your parents or in-laws need space, ensure that their room is off-limits to you and your kids. If you and your partner need yours, then make your own room off-limits as well. Try to be mindful of your kids and their need for privacy too, if they seem to need one, let them stay in their room if they have one or if they don’t, offer yours while you stay in the living room.
Share chores and costs.
Living with your parents or in-laws does not excuse you from your adult responsibilities, so ensure that you’re contributing in the household by way of doing your chores and even paying for some bills. You can split the general household chores of cleaning up and cooking, but try to be mainly responsible for your own family’s share of the chores — such as cleaning up after your kids and doing your kids’ laundry. Bills can be split up as well by either being responsible for things that you need, such as the Internet if it’s members of your family who are primary users, or paying a certain percentage of, such as the electricity bill which everyone at home uses.
Pick your battles.
Living with other people can sometimes get under your skin, whether its the way they arrange their stuff to how they press the toothpaste tube. But before complaining, ask yourself if the conflict is worth it. Try to reserve the possible arguments for other, more worthy battles, such as those involving your kids.
Bond as a family.
The grandparents tend to be more indulgent than parents, so try to bond as a core family in spite of living with them. It can be as simple as a day spent in the park or mall with your kids. This way, you can reestablish your connection and talk with them and give your parents a bit of break from the kids. But at the same time, also try to maximize your living situation by letting your kids form close ties with your parents as well and bond as a whole extended family.
Always remember that while parenting your kids under your parents’ or in-laws’ roof might be challenging, the situation might be the same to them as well because it might add financial and emotional strain this late in their lives. Therefore, try to always remain calm and respectful, yet consistent with your rules. Always remember as well that that is their home and gratitude can help smooth any relationship wrinkles that you might encounter.