Posts Tagged ‘Muti Generational Families’

Multigenerational Living – the family calendar

For any working parent, the issue of time is important. Time to wake up, get to work, make meetings, home for dinner, etc.

Well, for people who are retired, staying on a schedule can be less of an issue.  And when retired people live with those who work, this can be both a blessing and a challenge.

The blessing is that my retired parents have time on their hands to enjoy their grandkids, be present in the moment, and for the most part, not worry about where they need to be.  (Though they remain militant about the evening news – do all people over 65 have to hear every word Brian Williams utters starting at exactly 5:30?)

I marvel at and am grateful for the fact that my dad can sit in the playroom for hours with my son and work on his trains, and that my mom will sit with my daughter as she reads, or bakes with the kids and lets them hold the hand-mixer, measure ingredients, etc.

The challenge can occur when their less rigorous schedule comes in contact with our daily careers.

My husband and I have days that can be a little unpredictable and “on-the-fly” changes to our schedule can be tough on my parents.  Anyone with a 5 and 7 year old knows there is a certain amount of fluidity to any day, but my mom and dad, though they have all the time in the world, appreciate a certain predictability.  They like to know what to expect. (And I fully admit, this is a facet of MY parents, others might be far more free-wheeling.)  I can tell it frustrates them when I call and say I am running late – hell, it frustrates me, too.

The one thing that keeps me sane is our family calendar. I actually love printing it out and giving it to my dad because he will examine it thoroughly and ask questions about deviations to the schedule – “should we get the kids dinner this night?” or “your mom has a doctor’s appt this day so we can’t pick up the kids from school” or “really – you are traveling to the upper peninsula of Michigan for work?”

This seems to be the one tool that puts them at ease – if it is written down, they know what is happening.  In fact, it is not uncommon for my dad to remind me of things on the calendar.

So, as the new school year is approaching, I am getting organized and updating the family calendar – maybe you are, too?  This will, in the end, save everyone a headache and should allow my parents to watch the evening news regularly – for which I can only say – thank goodness – we would all suffer otherwise.  😉

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a multigenerational approach to parenting

Before I get started on this subject, which could be sensitive, let me say that my family is pretty basic – college graduates, married, kids, careers, etc.  I am sure that my 2 brothers and I recall “incidents” from our childhood that were yuck – but overall – our childhood was fun and it was good – we love each other.

We were lucky for many reasons – our parents were focused on our education, we traveled and participated in ballet/sports/after school stuff and they were supportive of us – even though we sometimes acted as if we had not a brain in our heads.  My dad had little patience for bad grades or behavior, but my mom rarely raised her voice and often ran interference with my dad when we took stupidity to a new level. 

So here we are in 2010, my husband, our 2 kids, and my parents all sharing a house.  There are bound to be differences in the way my husband and I raise our children in comparison to the way in which I was raised, right?  Our ages alone would suggest that “when our kids were young…” could be the go-to phrase for my parents while illustrating our shortcomings as a mom and dad. 

But quite happily, it has not turned out that way.  In fact, my parents are down right “hands-off” when it comes to passing judgment on the way we parent our son and daughter.  And they do not get involved with discipline unless we are not home. 

Based on their reactions, there have been occasions where I could tell they disagreed about the way my husband and I were dealing with a discipline issue.  However, I give them credit, they do not chime in with their 2 cents…and I think that makes a huge difference in our comfort level in having them in the house and spending so much time with our children.  They respect the way we parent our kids and do not interfere – and for the most part, they enforce our standards when we are not at home.  It would be terribly hard to have to parent our children and then justify the way we do that to my mom and dad. 

Ironically, it is my dad who now has the patience of Job as a grandfather and asks if he can go into their rooms and talk with his grandkids when they are in trouble?  To which I answer, NO – they are in TIMEOUT!!! and where in the world was this calm head of yours when I was a kid?

I think we got lucky because I am certain that we never really discussed the issue of parenting styles before we all moved into one house.  But don’t take that chance – I highly recommend talking about this before anyone else takes the multigenerational household plunge.

living successfully with my dad means living with lots of golf

For me, a major element in succesful multigenerational living is a clear understanding that there are certain things about my parents that do not, have not, and will not change.  

Case in point – my dad is a life-long, passionate golf aficionado.   

My dad's Father Day dinner - eaten during the final round of the US Open

 

My childhood is peppered with family memories on the links – courses from Arizona to California.     

Today, just like when I was a kid, there are times of the year where my dad spends Thursday through Sunday locked in front of the TV.  He will listen to the scintillating commentary of Johnny Miller, Nick Faldo and Jim Nantz, his favorite golf analysts, lean one way or another in an attempt to help out with a little “body English” of his own on a putt or drive from his favorite player, and provide his own opinions on golf swings, attire of the players and general golf gossip.   

Nearly every day of the year, there are golf tournaments on TV,  but The Masters, US Open, British Open, and PGA Championships the four majors he watches religiously.  During these tournaments, his attention is laser-focused on the flat screen.  

In other words, do not try to talk with my dad when the TV is on – commercials OK,
but not during the coverage, no way.   

Therefore, unlike the other 48 weekends of the year, my children’s wandering downstairs to play with or hang out with my parents is met with less enthusiasm than usual.  Thankfully for my kids, my mom is less interested in golf than my dad!   

It is very similar to when I was a child.  My mom would warn me “this is not the time to ask your father that” during these four sacred events.  I would listen to her, most of the time, but I would push it as far as I could.  She was and still is right – a golf tournament is probably not the time to interact with my dad.   

I happily admit that my father has mellowed with age – he is more likely to let my kids interrupt him, but for the most part, he is the same.  He wants to watch, listen to, and soak up every moment of the action.  And then dissect the action with my brothers.  (Whether there really is action in golf is another subject all together…)   

So if you are contemplating a move to or in with family, one cliché is worth repeating; times may change but people rarely do. 

the TCC and a spit-swap = the best July 4th

Are there moments from your childhood that are fresh in your mind – as if they happened yesterday?   

Most July 4th holidays from my youth are like that for me – clear in my mind; one for a “rite of passage”  moment and the others for the consistently shared experiences among family.  I had my first adult-like kiss on the golf course at a 4th of July picnic, with a boy who shall remain nameless, while fireworks burst in the sky above us (setting me up with totally unrealistic kissing expectations for the rest of my life).  As for the others, this was a holiday we always celebrated with my mom’s parents, picture below.  

Babuji and Honey - circa 1960

 

For 15 years, we observed Independence Day at the Tucson Country Club.  The club had a stunning display of fireworks every year that went on and on and on.  Nothing I have ever seen since can compare.  

Each year, after an enormous BBQ, the celebration started with 8 foot outlines of political, tv, and sports characters of the day, or meaningful scenes from American History being lit up inch-by-inch in fireworks – it was like watching dominoes of light trace the images and bring them to life.  After that, massive, intricate and colorful fireworks exploded over our heads for that seemed like an entire hour while we oohed and aahed.  The grande finale was always better than the year before.  

And while the fireworks were on display, we would continue to nibble at BBQ remnants; fresh corn, every kind of meat known to man, enough watermelon to swell a belly and invariably, thick, rich brownies.  As was often the case, my grandparents would talk about their adolescence in Nebraska and Colorado.  I heard stories every year, about what each of them did on the 4th of July when they were kids, “back in the day.”   

And though those stories might have become repetitive as a child, now, it is less the details of those stories that I recall and more the “feeling” of being with my grandparents.    

They are my roots, my history, my foundation.  

At the annual week-long reunion of my mom’s side of the family, the conversation turns to my maternal grandparents, as it often does, and my brothers, cousins and I will tell and re-tell stories about them we all know and love; we all still “feel” them – their pull on us, solidifying our determination to see each other every year, despite the varied zip coded in which we live, our commitment to each other and our families.   

I hope that well into the future, my kids will be able to recall with clarity all the memories they are making with my parents today, but mostly that they will be able to “feel” them in their lives forever.  

I love you and miss you Honey and Babuji!

The peony and living with my parents – there really is a connection….

The peony is my favorite flower of all time.  Lucky for me, they are very popular in cooler climates and grow easily in Colorado.  I was happy to live in a place where I could try my hand at caring for them; I planted a peony bush the first spring we lived here. 

The next June, there were 7 of the delicate pink, buds that bloomed into stunning, deliciously fragrant flowers.  I could not have been happier with my novice attempt at gardening.

There must be something genetic in my family about this flower, because it is also my mom’s favorite and, upon catching a scent of the peony, my daughter said it smelled like, “heaven.”

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With the success of the first peony, my mom and dad bought another and planted it in another spot in the back yard.  That was fine with me, the more peonies, the better.  I could have an entire backyard full of them and be quite happy. 

When the second one bloomed, my daughter declared it was “Honey’s peony.”  (All 8 of my mom’s grandkids call her “Honey.”)  My mom laughed and said something like, “well, I think it would be better if we all cared for them – that way we can all enjoy them!” 

And I think that is a pretty decent analogy for the reason I live in a multigenerational household – turns out, it’s good for all of us.