You're retired and considering moving to be closer to your children and their families. But should you?
There is an old Dutch proverb that says: “A happy new home is one where you can’t see the smoke from your parent’s chimney.” That may be true, but when this quote was created, everyone in the family probably lived within an hour of each other at most.
In fact, even 70 years ago, most families lived in close proximity to most of their relatives. Children would marry and move away from home, of course, but this “moving away from home” usually meant moving a few miles away. At most, the new couple established their roots in the next town.
But things changed dramatically since then, and families became more and more spread out geographically.
Children went to the city to further their education and never returned to the area where they grew up. Maybe they met their future husband or wife and ended up moving across the country when they married. Good jobs or promotions often required relocation. Transfers moved families all over this country.
And this increased mobility has affected your family too. You’ve done your best to keep in touch, but it’s just not been the same as living near your family. Some of your grandchildren are already as tall as you and you don’t feel you really know them as well as you would like to.
Retirement gives you a lot of choices
Retirement is offering you the possibility to live closer to your children, but before you sell your home, take time to carefully consider your decision.
Have you talked things over honestly?
- Do you want to stay where you are or have you always wanted to move closer to your children and grandchildren?
- Do you know for sure that they want you closer to them?
- Will you be able to make new friends when you move or will you be relying totally on your family for the relationships you need in your life?
- Will you end up becoming a baby sitter, cook, cleaner and gardener for your adult children?
- What about your son-in-law or daughter-in-law? How do they feel about having you closer?
- Have you been open with each other and talked through all the issues in advance?
- Do they have blended families? if so,how will you grandparent the stepchildren?
Is guilt part of the equation?
You might feel that you haven’t spent enough time with them. Maybe they want you near because they feel guilty about not having made enough effort to get together with you in the past. Adult children and their parents sometimes play games with each other. Adult children may say what they think their parents want to hear or only say things that will not upset their parent, rather than what is true. So, be careful and above all be honest with each other before any decision is made.
What if they don’t have time for you?
Remember, their life is probably a balancing act right now. They are responsible for many things and many people, and their schedule may be very full! You probably have expectations about the help you would like from them at this stage of your life. Can they meet your expectations? If so, will it be a joy or a burden for them?
“Knowing what it would be like” is often difficult without “actually doing it.” If you do decide to move, it would be wise to arrange for help from other sources for some of your needs so as not to rely totally on your family and overwhelm them.
Make it a comfortable transition for everyone involved.
Do your children want you closer? Do you want to be closer to them?
If so, you are the most fortunate person in the world! Seize the opportunity.. Family is everything!
© Allen Unrau, used with permission
This article was written by: Allen UnrauPhoto Credit: Annie Spratt