Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Living with Parents and In-Laws

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines- The parent-child relationship is one of the most long-lasting and emotionally intense social ties. Although often positive and supportive, this tie also includes feelings of irritation, tension, and ambivalence. Indeed, parents and their children report experiencing anxieties as soon as the children are grown.

Life expectancy has risen tremendously due primarily to better health care, nutrition and awareness of life-threatening factors. With longevity increasing, the possibility of a newly-married couple having their parents or in-laws living with them is greater than it was, say, 20 or 30 years ago.

Where parents and in-laws are to be considered, especially a mother-in-law who finds it difficult to relinquish hold on her child, the very first steps in the relationship are most important. Good and secure family ties are among the best gifts a couple can bring to a marriage.

When it is necessary or advisable for a parent or in-law to live in the same house with the couple, it should be remembered that they probably also feel a certain reserve if not an actual unhappiness at the upheaval in their own lives. In their age they can be less adaptable than when they were younger; they are already used to their own way of doing things and probably to more privacy than seems possible in the new household.

Whenever feasible, they should have their own room, however small, furnished with at least some of their own belongings. If certain contributions to the household are expected from them, a hand with the children or meals, it should never be assumed that they have no plans of their own. Older people, especially mothers-in-law, should always be treated kindly and with utmost respect. Happy elders who feel needed and useful can add immeasurably to a full, complete family life with the rest of the members.

Sometimes parents or in-laws living with a young couple become impossibly difficult. They either cannot or will not adjust to the new arrangements, and they become oppressive or domineering. However if the young couple are the ones who move into the older person's home, then they may have no recourse but to move out again as amicably as possible, or if not, somehow divide the house into completely separate living quarters, so there can be a minimum of contact between them and the difficult parents.

Many young married couples have to support one or more parents or at least contribute to their support. If at all possible, it is better for parents to live separately, no matter how simply, to ensure their own independence and that of their children. Whether the dependent parents or in- laws live with their children or not, their bills should not be paid for them if they are capable of managing their own affairs. Unless they are forgetful or senile, they should be treated like responsible people, and permitted to handle their own expenditures for rent, clothes, food and spending money. Unless they ask to be relieved of the responsibility, they should have their own bank accounts to which their children contribute at intervals. Whatever the income, even if it is small, old folks feel more self-respect managing their finances themselves. Children should let their parents make their own decision on how to spend their money.

For couples having difficulty dealing with their in-laws, here are a few simple facts to remember:

. Learn to understand the need to blend the traditions of two families and honor their need to find their own way of doing things.

. Maintain respectful boundaries.

. Allow in-laws access to their family.

. Participate in family events.

. Listen to one another.

. Try to sympathize with one another's feelings.

. Understand that in-laws are different people with different ways.

. Lastly, do not allow your emotions to entangle you. As the saying goes, "The best way to disengage an enemy is to make him an ally."



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