For both cultural and financial reasons (as well as other reasons), many family units with children live in the same homes as their extended families. Whether you live with your parents, your in-laws, or some other combination of family members, this living situation comes with unique benefits and challenges.
The perks are many. Your children will have the privilege of living in a home full of people who love them and who have rich and diverse experiences. Having loving grandparents and fun uncles and aunts around can lead to a wonderful and memorable childhood for your kids. Extended family members may also speak a second language, and learning that language is significantly easier for your child if those around him or her are speaking it.
If those family members are able and willing to help care for your child, the benefits of that can be far-reaching: from being able to take a shower without worrying about your curious toddler breaking everything you own, to having the reassurance that you are leaving your child in the care of people you trust when you need to run errands or go to work.
That being said, regardless of how loving your extended family is, having multiple family units living together can be a source of conflict. You will need to practice an immense amount of patience.
From my own experiences living in a mixed-family home, and after hearing from a number of women who live or have lived in this set-up, I have compiled a list of nine ways to thrive with your child in your shared home:
1. Stay Positive and Stay Flexible:
Assume the best of your family members. Unless they have blatantly shown disregard for you or your children, assume that they are loving individuals who have your best interests at heart. Stay as optimistic as possible. If they do something to annoy you, give them the benefit of the doubt.
Be open to taking suggestions and advice from older family members. They have a lot to offer and it makes them feel valued to be a part of your child’s upbringing! It should nonetheless be clear that as the child’s parent, you are the ultimate authority and will make the decisions you see as best.