Being a single parent is tough enough. Being a single parent who has to live with your own parents is doubly difficult. It may not be the ideal situation, but when you are a single parent—especially if you are suffering financially—sometimes it’s necessary.
Even in the most supportive and loving family environments, however, it can be a strain to try and parent your own child when someone who will forever see you as their baby looks over your shoulder. Keep some things in mind to help this stage in your life go a little more smoothly.
Keep some things in mind to help this stage in your life go a little more smoothly.
Compromise on Rules
When you raise your child in your own home, you have the right to set the rules any way you see fit. When you live in someone else’s household, you have to take their rights into consideration as well. If your parents don’t want loud music playing, expect dishes to be cleaned right after meals or don’t want kids running up and down the stairs, you have to take their wishes into consideration and make them part of the house rules for everyone. This is not only respectful to your parents, but also sets a good example for your child that rules apply to everyone and responsible people follow them.
Make a Contribution
In one way or another, it’s important to contribute to the household, even if your parents don’t seem to need the money or the help. If you work, you can offer your parents a monthly rent, take care of a bill or two, purchase groceries or buy some needed things for the household. Also contribute to the care and upkeep of the household. This means more than just cleaning up after yourself and your child (which should be a given)—do yard work, make repairs if you’re capable or take some of the more mundane chores off your parents shoulders.
If you are unable to contribute financially, it’s even more important that you contribute in other ways. Teach your child to contribute as well if he is old enough to help sort socks, load the dishwasher or rake the leaves. This is not only a way to preserve your own dignity and self-respect, but will help keep any unnecessary arguments from starting.
Don’t Treat Parents Like Automatic Babysitters
If your parents are offering you a home in your time of need, don’t treat them as though they are your 24-hour on-staff childcare team. Granted, they may absolutely love spending time with their grandbabies, but if you do need a sitter you should ask in advance and schedule it. While you may have fewer options when it comes to going to work, you should definitely not take advantage of their offers for socializing. There’s nothing wrong with getting out one night a week or having an occasional date, but your parents should not be spending more time home with your kids than you do.
Even if your parents offer full time services, occasionally give them a break. Hire another sitter, use a day care or after school program part time, ask a friend or another relative. This keeps your child from growing more dependent on your parents than on you—allowing the child to see you in his mind as the ultimate authority and caregiver who calls the shots.
Keeping the tension to a minimum and setting a good example of behavior for your children can help you as you get through the tough times until you are ready to go out on your own.