Almost thirty years ago I would have never expected to have my adult daughter and her two children living at home, let alone for almost 6 years. To say this has been an adventure would be a mild understatement, but the time we’ve spent together has given me invaluable insight into what it takes to make this unique form of co-parenting within a multi-generational home be a success.
My days as a wife and mother of three have been filled to the brim with moments to remember. Many of those moments felt a little too busy and too exciting. As a family we experienced our share of joys and conflicts that transitioned the anticipation of what our life would be like into the reality. I am still amazed that three children, growing up in the same house can become such unique individuals, but in retrospect that was my goal- to raise confident, independent children, who were true to who they are and able to care for themselves.
As our daughters and son grew up our home was always busy and full of excitement. Our oldest daughter grew up strong and eager to become independent, even of us. She excelled in almost everything she did. She was mature, well spoken, and hard working. From fourteen on she held a job and by sixteen graduated high school. By the time she was eighteen she had earned her teaching degree for cosmetology, enrolled in the local community college, and shortly after moved out into her first apartment. Her adult life was beginning with a roaring start and without the constant restraints and rules of mom and dad’s home. Never did any of us expect this to prelude our daughter arriving home years later with a precious baby, both of them needing lots of love and support. All of our roles suddenly shifted. My husband and I were no longer simply mom and dad, but had also become grandparents and some version of co-parents for our daughter, who was now beginning to navigate unfamiliar territory as well.
The reality is our daughter is a very independent, self reliant woman who lives in our home with her two children and has to juggle the roles of single mother, working woman, college student, and daughter. Truthfully, thirty years ago I would not have been able to mother and grandmother simultaneously. It is exhausting. However, I thank God for the way He has enabled me to care for my family. In our home, each individual has a complicated role, and we are all still trying to define what is necessary in order for us to co-exist and grow in our ever evolving relationships.
We still have a lot to work on, and if you find yourself in a similar situation I guarantee the same could be said of you and your family. So far, we’ve found that in our home we need to set realistic goals and expectations of each other. It has been important for us to focus on the big picture, not pushing so hard to survive our circumstances from day to day that the childhood of my grandchildren gets lost in the moment, but rather that each day is special for them and the life milestones that they are experiencing are building a solid foundation for a successful future of their own. As we move forward, this year and in the years to come, our goal as a family is to ensure we enable each other, especially the children, to grow emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
The simplest advice I could offer anyone else who has an adult child and their children living at home is this: it is not going to be easy or clear cut. Your role as a parent and grandparent will often be blurred. There are times that you will overstep and many more that you will bite your tongue and later regret not speaking up. You will make mistakes. You will frustrate you child, irritate you spouse, anger your other adult children (if you have them), and find yourself overwhelmed. This experience has led me to discover just how human I am. I find myself in a position of influence; some may say power, and yet feel incredibly vulnerable. Trying to balance supporting my daughter and her children, without creating an unhealthy co-dependence is a daily struggle. I am not sure if I am winning or losing today, but I am trying my best and I know God knows my intentions are pure. I love my family. I love my children and grandchildren. I am learning to rethink my definition of a family, of parenting, and by all means, grandparenting. In the end all I can be sure of is that what ‘a parent’ is to me or my daughter or for her children may not be apparent to you as you look in from the outside. That’s okay.
Terry Miller has been married for 33 yrs. She received an associates degree in Christian Education of Children from United Wesleyan College. She home schooled her three children while perusing her career in retail sales and now helps out with her four grandchildren.She is the inventor of the Bouqube, www.bouqube.com a patented, do it yourself, floral designing tool for children and adults.
About My Turn Your Turn
Visit us on our official website at www.MyTurnYourTurn.com. My Turn Your Turn is a co-parenting website that helps organize families and improve communication between co-parents sharing children due to divorce or separation. Specializing in co-parenting tools and shared parenting resources including an online custody calendar, online divorce journal, child support tracker and more for blended families, single parents and high conflict divorce cases.