You’ve just launched your last Millennial, again; you’ve transformed the final bedroom into your very own art gallery. Now your entire house is yours. You don’t have to put a robe on to walk through the house; you and the wife have big plans of hosting “Painting with a Twist” parties, couples game-night counseling groups, and other personal conjugal evenings together. Life at home has not been this good since you brought the first of your 3-babies home.
Then, you get a call to come to a family meeting where your siblings (in a meeting before the meeting) have agreed that since your mother can no longer afford to live alone; you have more room in your home and are retired that your mother would be more comfortable living with you. And just like that, your life is switched back to a guardian, only this time it’s not your child it’s your parent.
Mom, of course, doesn’t really need taking care of, she’s fully functional and enjoys a life of activity with her church friends and social organization. But your life has changed significantly because you will have to again put on clothes to lounge around the house, dismantle your newly decorated fun room, turning it back into a bedroom, and begin entertaining “advice” from your mother who “doesn’t mean to pry.”
Whew, so what do you do? The family, the one that now resides in your home, will need to sit down and talk about house rules. Here are a few to get you started:
1) Respect the privacy of others—knock on all closed doors
2) Notification of visitors
3) Dress appropriately at all times, considering others
4) Rules about overnight guests
5) Work out some weekends where mom stays with other members of the family—perhaps every weekend.
6) Create rules regarding cleaning, pets, overnight trips—all behaviors that will affect the smooth running of the household
Many of your rules you’ll have to devise as you go—as the need arises. There is no way you’ll be able to think of everything in one setting. You want to make it clear that more rules will follow until you get accustomed to living together.
You might want to solicit the aid of a dispute resolution professional to preside so that everyone has a voice and mom fills included. The professional will make sure that your wife, who is still the woman of the house, has a clear voice in the decision-making process. It will be extremely important that the two women understand their roles and respect the boundaries as well.
And you may have to learn to balance your role as the “man of the house” and your mother youngest son. You’ll most likely need a therapist to help you work through this dilemma. Finally, involve your siblings because while your mom is living with you, she is still the others’ mother too and you want to make sure that they stay connected in helping to take care of your mother. So, invite them to every meeting especially the ones that involve the professionals. You should not have to do this alone. Your mother is coming to stay but you still have a whole lot of life to live. You can do both—live an active life and assist your mother as she lives hers.