When children are grown and have children of their own, the dynamic between the parent and the adult child morphs into something difficult to define. The children, who are no longer children, for better or worse, slowly take on the role of caregiver. This can be welcome or annoying. Some seniors, particularly those who don’t have a spouse, need a hand with finances, or an extra ear at the doctor’s office. Others feel fully in control of their lives and find their children’s scrutiny a nuisance.
It becomes even more complicated when grandchildren are factored in. Many seniors consider moving to be close to the grandkids, as well as to have a support network for their own lives. But is moving really a good idea?
Some factors to consider include the relationship between the child and parent. Does the move satisfy a desire for inclusion between the parent and child, or is it a product of not making enough effort – or put another way, guilt. Moving because one or both parties feel they don’t spend enough time together on a principle level is not the same as needing to spend more time together on an emotional or practical level. It could be no one will have time for the senior between busy work schedules, after school activities, and weekend play dates. It’s important to assess the need.
The relationship with the adult child’s spouse is something to consider, as well. Does the child want the senior to move, but the in-law secretly dreads the idea? Try be honest, because that will matter in the future. This will be a daily issue, instead of an occasional one.
Happiness in a new town or city depends on personal enjoyment. It’s important to have access to the right activities, such as museums, music performances, bridge groups, book groups, golf, tennis, swimming, and volunteer opportunities. The ability to meet new friends to enjoy these activities with is just as critical. Weather, be it a need for seasons or year-round warmth, is also important. No one wants to be uncomfortable.
What’s the role for both the senior parent, and the child? Will the senior become the babysitter and cook? Is this what the senior wants? Perhaps it’s relieving to have a grandparent babysitter in a pinch because it encourages a bond. Will the adult child harass their parent and over-analyze every senior moment the parent has? Is this also a relief, somehow, however? Maybe it’s a comfort for the senior parent to know that if something goes wrong, family is only a phone call away. While annoying, those seniors who experience the most nagging from their children say they also feel the most loved.
Being near family can be a great thing, as long as it’s the right decision for everyone involved.