Living Near Your Children…Bonus or Bad Move?

Written by Allen Unrau

livenearHalf a century ago most families stayed in the same area. You lived your life in close proximity to most of your relatives. Children would marry and move away from home. This “moving away from home” usually meant a few miles or at most it may have been the next town where they established their roots.

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 everyone you knew lived within an hour of each other.

Things changed dramatically in the last half of the century and Canadian families are now spread out geographically.

Children went to the city for further 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 required moves and relocation if you wanted to move up the ladder.  Transfers moved families all over this country.  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

Should you 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?  Maybe you can’t wait to be able to help them out, but you need to consider these things in advance.

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 and how will you grandparent role fit with stepchildren?

Maybe you are moving because of guilt. You feel that you haven’t spent enough time with them or 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 send messages they feel their parents want to hear or messages that will not upset their parent, rather than what is true.  So, be careful and above all be honest with each other before you pull up stakes.

What if you follow the kids and 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 and will it be a joy or a burden for them?

“Knowing what it would be like” is often difficult to achieve without “actually doing it.”  If you move, you 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 you get the feeling they want you closer?

If so, you are the most fortunate person in the world!  Seize the opportunity…family is everything!

Article © Allen Unrau, used with permission

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225 Responses to “Living Near Your Children…Bonus or Bad Move?”

  • Ann says:

    I am 65 and ready for a new start in another state because the state I live in, let them tell it, there are no jobs available for people my age (lost a 22 year job 8 years ago). When applying for senior housing, the first thing that pops up is my credit (even though I show a report when my credit was great). On top of that it took me 5 years to get the money together, and I finally filed bankruptcy. I’ve planned on taking my living room furniture and dinette set (my husband passed 21 years ago and these I bought on my own). My home hasn’t been in foreclosure yet although it’s being sold for taxes. I will be stayting with my daughter’s friend for a few months until I find an apartment (hopefully in 2 or 3 months) My daughter and her family is moving to the same state but she’s stated twice that I might have to leave everything because the movers are expensive and I just get survivor’s social security. So, is she correct?

  • Elkay says:

    Ileana and T. Smith, your different situations confirm the opportunities and challenges of the different alternatives this article addresses and I hope both of your futures bring you in close alignment with God’s kingdom plans. My wife and I are retired near three sets of grandchildren and, yes, there has been a lot of babysitting, driving to and fro and cooking as well as helping with unexpected expenses. We do take comfort from the admonition of 1 Tim 4:8 to care for family. As you go forward, if you would like more personal and confidential support, please consider hitting the Talk to a Mentor button on this page and a trained Mentor will respond freely back to you by email. May God bless both of you today with exactly what you need today.

  • T.Smith says:

    We have lived by my in-laws for 37 years. In retrospect I would not do it again. We get along fine but we had to commute 70 miles round trip for 35 years. They babysat for a time then after age 2 of our oldest we had to put him in full time day care. Great situation for the in-laws but we suffered as no friends as we worked in another community. We bought their property and now are stuck to live in an isolated area until they die. We have no friends and pmy husband is I’ll and we are 35 miles from a hospital and have to help with my elderly in-laws who are pretty active compared to my sickly husband. We live on 6.5 acres which is a lot to clear in the spring with just me and mynin-laws. I am so lonely as my husband is always sick and we do not have the money to really do anything. One son lives in the Bay Area and the other is getting ready to graduate from college and join the. I wish we had gotten our own place back when we were younger and lived independently from th in-laws and been independent. This has been a Godsend for my in-laws but hell for me. When they die we will be strapped with their home on our property. It is an obligation we cannot afford and need to be closer to health care as I can not take care of 6.5 acres alone as husband is so ill. I hope he dies soon so I can move on.

  • Ileana says says:

    Sue I really like your comment.Im 61 and will be moving away from my kids,I live in South Florida only because my kids are here,If you don’t like going to the beach there’s absolutely nothing to do.I find that they are always busy and I don’t really get to see them that much even though we live in the same state.They are very supported of my decision and have been coming around more often know but that’s only because I’m moving in couple of weeks.So I’m going in faith and trusting God that this will be a good move for my personal growth.

  • Aldo says:

    Dave, I hear what you are saying. I believe that older parents should not be put in a situation like the one you have described. Yes, you and your wife undoubtedly love your children and grand children, but you have your lives to live. You should try to help your children in any way you can, but you should not be coerced into a lifestyle which will jeopardize your well being, unless you both agree on it. Remember, your first responsibility is toward your spouse.

  • Dave says:

    We too have children that are a little less than two hours drive from us. With one grandchild (18 mos. old) and one on the way this year for ‘both our children’, they feel they need more help than ever with the new babies coming. My son works,is attending graduate school for a Phd and has to help out with the chores and the 18 month old son and his wife also works. He is so stressed out and then there is my daughter, its going to be her first baby to this year. They both live an 1 1/2 apart and by wife doesn’t know where to divide herself. I’m 65 years old and my home is paid for and I’m not welling to take on a new mortgage at my age. I have enough expenses as it is and my wife and son are constantly wanting a move closer to them to help out. It’s not like its around corner and cost of homes will be higher than what we will get for ours. My son says: “Don’t you want to be closer to your grandchild”. I feel bad but it would be a tremendous headache getting rid of a lot of accumulated stuff here in order to make room for some smaller home and then there’s the cost of fixing a few things here in order to sell it. Everyday its why do we need this big house and why can’t I be closer to them ? I just want to put headphones on or something to be let alone in my own little world. I do love my grandchild and want to see him but my wife says she’s afraid to dive to them in the winter and I get on there nerves.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Kelly, will you listen even if I tell you, “You’re wrong”? :) Just kidding!

    I am sure there are added aspects to your family relationships that complicate things more, but as you have presented it here, I would agree that the New Yorkian (is that what they are called) daughter is being manipulative. What do you think is motivating that kind of response? Why is she determined for you to stay where you are?

  • Kelly says:

    I need advice. I have two children that live on opposite sides of the United States literally, California and New York. I live in the midwest. I love them equally, but I have no desire to live in New York. I was born in California and have lots of family there. My plan is to eventually move to the West Coast, which will put me nearer one child. My other child, knowing this, has now refused to talk to me, accuses me of playing favorites and says she will never forgive me if I leave her hometown and move nearer her sibling. Both are 20-somethings. I’m feeling guilty, but I know, as a reasonable person, that it’s not fair for her to bully me into what she wants. She moved away from me, and I’ve been supportive in every way as she lives her dream, even financially. Someone tell me I’m right here. Thank you.

  • Chris says:

    Angela….so sorry you are strugging…the plain truth is that there is nothing in this world guaranteed except what God controls. even the best families will have problems and eventually end either through death or seperations of distance and time but the one family and life that wont end is with jesus our lord and savior and his people. for more information on knowing jesus and his family of faith log onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above. praying you find the peace you need as you give yourself and your loved ones to christ. blessings!

  • Angela says:

    Im a mom, newly single, my kids are 4,6 and 9.. My parents and I have had the typically latch key kid relationship of my generation. We barley spent time with each other despite living together until I was twenty. No family vacations, weekend activities, sports etc. I met each set of grandparents twice and only occasionally spoke on the phone. My brother no longer speaks to my parents. Now at twenty nine I am pondering moving closer to them. However my motivation isn’t really to spend time with them.
    I just hope when my kids are grown they will remain a part of my life. I hope that when they have children I will be there to give advice, or just a shoulder to lean on. I want to set a good example and attempt to give my children family values that my brother and I never had. Is there any research on if kids who grow up close to their grand parents remain close to their parents when they age? I just feel like if I follow my parents lead and exile my children from their grand parents then I will most likely end up in the same boat myself in the future.

  • Virginia says:

    Mary,

    You must make the choice that you feel most comfortable with. Welcome or forced don’t read into your son’s invitation. If he feels you’re appreciation he will loving help you. However, if he feels you are taking him for granted he will become resentful.
    Instead look for housing near your son that is closest to your price range if you are unable to find something near him you can afford offer him a similar arrangement as you currently have. Relationships are strongest when benefits go both ways.

  • Alfred says:

    Hi Lindy, In listening to your story and praying about it, I feel that a visit (with your daughter) to see this boyfriend in Texas would be in order. Then all 3 of you can get a feeling of what the future may hold. I’d say that it could be a relief to get away from someone who’s got different life-style views than you do.
    That leads me to the question of how close you and your daughter are to God, and whether you are led by the Holy Spirit. I would encourage you to read the Bible (alone as well as together). Is your boyfriend in Texas is a Christian, if you don’t mind me asking?
    I’ll be watching this site to look for your response.
    Praying for you, Alfred.

  • Lindy says:

    Living in Washington state, after i got out of a 20 year marriage, I contacted an old boyfriend who lives in Texas. Sparks flew, and I respect his virtues and lifestyle, but I never persued the relationship because I didnt want to uproot my daughter at 16 years of age, also I have one other adult child that lives here. Then I met a man here in my town that has been very good to me, my daughter and I moved in with him to make bills and life easier. I found out after a short time he has some narcissist, bipolar, tendencies and different lifestyle views from mine that have made me not like him as much as I should. So I contacted my ex boyfriend who has been very supportive and loving at what ever situation I choose. I would really like to see what life would be like to be with him, but I dont know that my daughter would share the same views. I am so confused at what I should do. She could go with me if she wanted to but she loves where we live and the man I live with would probably let her stay with him for a while but he might not be real happy with me for leaving him. I am afraid she wont want to go. Should I stay here for her or leave.

  • Cindy says:

    Good article. Love my family but feel in the long run all would be happier if we all stay independent on our own not to mention we all have our own way of doing things and all have a right to privacy with our airing out the laundry. Parents are happy to know their adult children are well off and they do not have to care for their parents. With today’s planes, trains, and buses we have the ability to visit. Keeping in touch through text and Facebook is the same as being there for full life adult children these days. We are comfortable on the thought of moving to a low income senior high rise.

  • Sue says:

    Aldo—we let fear drive us. My husband’s father died of cancer at the age of 68–the age my husband is now and there is also a history of stroke on his side of the family. We know we may need help some time down the line, but my husband and I are in good health now. We have four grown children with families and they all live in different parts of the country. We can’t possibly live near all of them. I just wish we had followed our dream—we could always move closer to family later. We don’t want to move across the country—just further south in Florida. I just wish we had not let our son badger us into living in this boring little town. There is nothing to do. As far as the grandchildren go, I barely know them. They are my son’s step children and I only saw them twice before we moved here.

  • Aldo says:

    Sue, there definitely are advantages and disadvantages to living in close proximity to your children, but with so many variants which will influence the outcome. For instance, what is the health and well-being of each person; what is the loyalty and attachment of each to the other; what are each’s likes and dislikes; etc?

    My family is a really close-knit one. So much so, that our daughter has often said that neither mom nor dad will ever go into a nursing home, but that she would take care of us should that day ever come. Some time ago my wife suffered a stroke and now needs a reasonable amount of care. At present I am able to provide that care, but it is nice to know that if I was not able, mom would be cared for by a loved one.

    We enjoy time with our children, grand children, and great grand children tremendously, and they enjoy being with us as well. We look forward to the time when all encumbrances of being together will be removed.

  • Sue says:

    Do not listen to this advice. I did and I regret it. We had always wanted to retire in central or south Florida especially after living up north for many years, but out son lives in the northern part of the state and wanted us to live near him. The town he lives in is small with nothing to do. Also it is 30 miles from the beach. The summers are extremely hot and it gets cold in the winter. The town is full of rednecks with a confederate flag flying in the town square. We should have rented here, but our son convinced us we should purchase a home. I had my reservations from the start, but my husband went along with everything my son said, so now we are stuck in a boring little town with nothing to do. Also my son and his wife are constantly fighting and hit us up for money all the time. The moral of my story is—-do what you want to do, not what your kids want you to do. Its your life, not theirs.

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