Living with grandma and grandpa can sometimes be a little inhibiting, but it isn’t all that rare in our close-knit society where we often find 3 generations of family living under the same roof.
What happens then when you’ve got different ideals, behaviours, norms and values? Growing up in under different circumstances and environments, each generation is likely to have a different take on how life should be lived and how the family should interact. What can each member of the family do to smooth out these differences?
Advice for Elders
If you’re the elder or the pioneer in the household, it is easy to expect the respect of everyone else in the household. You may find the rings in your grandson’s nose or ears a little garish and improper for a young man. At the same time, it is important to understand that the world is constantly changing, and so are its fads. As the head of the family, tap on your wealth of experience and imagine yourself as a 20 year old back in your day, did you not yearn to do things your way as well? Thinking from this perspective is likely to give you a better understanding on why young people act the way they do.
Understand that your habits may also be seen as strange and primitive to your young ones and instead of keeping your habits to yourself, share and communicate. Impart your knowledge of the world and your past to the younger generations. Not only does this keep conflict at bay, it also strengthens the bond between family members.
The most common cause of conflict comes when grandparents insist on stepping in to parent their grandchildren. Doing so undermines the ability of your own children as well as their authority. It is vital to understand that your children will not necessarily raise their kids the same way as you have raised them. Parenthood is unique to each individual and the experiences they have had as children will shape the way they bring up their own children. So take a step back and only offer your advice when you feel it is necessary.
Advice for the Middle Generation
When you are stuck between your parent and your child, it gets tiring having to appease both parties and acting as the bridge between them. Being a parent puts pressure on you, the same pressures your parents or in laws probably had raising their own children. Understand that and perhaps you’ll feel a little better equipped when dealing with any conflict.
If you are a young parent, it can seem like a great idea to have your parents around to look after the young ones while you’re bringing home the bacon. However, as much as they would love to look after their grandchildren, they most likely lack the stamina to pander to the needs of a crying and a needy toddler. So, if you are able to, hire professional help, and involve your parents just in overseeing and helping out when necessary.
Having a teenager at home with seniors can sometimes be challenging. Teenagers go through the phase of experimenting with new looks and behaviours in their bid to discover themselves. The way they dress may seem outlandish and unacceptable to their grandparents. However, with proper transitions and an open communication, grandparents may even be involved in the process of discovery and offer their own opinions and takes or share experiences from their teenage years.
Ultimately, communication is always the key to avoiding conflict. So communicate openly and frequently with your family.
Embrace the changes and different elements that each generation brings to the family.
Respect the space and privacy of your family members, and allow each generation to grow in their own time.
Always communicate, keep it open and mediate to close the gaps between each generation.