Save. Spend. Splurge.

Would you live with your in-laws?

My team lead the other day came into the room in a bit of a huff. Under a dark cloud if you will.

Apparently, his in-laws are visiting, and when he said that with that look on his face, I realized that was the reason why he was coming in to work so dang early and leaving so late.

It was all to avoid the in-laws as much as possible, particularly his mother-in-law.

His father-in-law, he said, he had no problem with, but his mother-in-law was just so critical that it was a real stressor.

I joked then: I guess they won’t be living and moving into your basement any time soon then?

He looked at me with such a horrified glare that I think he was viscerally reacting to the very thought of what I proposing.

He told me he would sooner move out and sleep in the tool shed than share the same house as her.

Nursing homes, would be the solution for a happy marriage he said.

Then later on that day, I was eating lunch with a colleague who also brought up living with his in-laws.

His mother-in-law moved in with them as she got older and was unable to care for herself about 5 years ago, and he was having difficulties with it, so he voiced a few of them.

The things he and his wife have to do for his mother-in-law were extensive.

She cannot move by herself so they have to carry her, bathe her, change her, etc. Just like a baby.

She also gets bored with television (obviously) because she can’t move any longer, and asks to be moved up and down during the day, carried like a baby.

It is starting to strain on the family and exhaust their relationship because while it is her mother, it is also affecting the whole mood of the house.

Before he said, they were boisterous, laughing, joking.

Now, they are more subdued.

His children tiptoe.

They feel hampered like they cannot have too much fun. Even when they go out to do physical activity, they have to be careful to not make her feel bad for not being able to even move.

It really seems to be a cultural thing (or not?).

I find in primarily English-speaking countries, the general attitude is to not even consider intergenerational living.

NEITHER way is ideal. I also have other stories about parents who DO NOT want to move in with their children, or other sorts of issues like financial strains that families go under when they try to take on so many adults and feel the pressure and responsibility of having to pay for and care for 6 adults and their kids on one income.

Think: Charlie Bucket and the Bucket Family, in this case.

I am not here to argue the case for one or the other (both have their points), but more so to point out that elsewhere in the world, I find intergenerational seems to be more accepted.

I hear from many different cultures from Asia, South America and the Middle East in particular that don’t even question or argue the fact that they need to care for their in-laws.

They just accept it as a fact of life, and aside from my colleague’s extreme example above, they even enjoy it. They love having the grandparents around (extra set of hands, trust me, super useful with small children even now), and having them share in the joy and tell stories about what goes on.

I wonder why that is –

How did we reach the point where some cultures embrace and expect intergenerational living while others really emphasize independence from others?

It also slightly relates to myself remembering when I was telling people Little Bun sleeps with us in the bed, remembering how I did that when I was a little girl (and my partner did with his family when he was a small boy).

I found it normal, but other parents were HORRIFIED.

How will he ever be independent?” seemed to be the common refrain after they dealt with the issues of how we were able to sleep (not well, thank you, but a bit better all things considered than if he slept alone in his own room and we have to get up during the night).

Independence I feel, is the key to all of this.

Some cultures embrace and enjoy the idea of a community sort of living where everyone is your aunt or uncle, and you are all brothers and sisters.

Other cultures, want individuality (English-speaking ones tend to lean towards this mindset, I find), and really fiercely guard having their own private lives and places, to the point where they would rather be put in a nursing home, or put their parents in a nursing home to have them professionally cared for, rather than by family.

Some see that as harsh, but I see the practicality of having a doctor and nurse on call 24/7 in a nursing home, plus all the other benefits of being in a home for those who are aged.

It is all what you were brought up with and how you see the world.

Where do you stand?


  • Jamie

    Considering I already live with my mother-in-law, lol … Right now its not too bad, she can take care of herself (the situation you mentioned above about having to carry the mother, I’m sorry but I could not do that, that’s when they go in a home or I have someone live with us to take care of her (I physically couldn’t do it!)

    MIL helps out with our little guy which is great since we’ve cut the cost of daycare since he only goes 2 days instead of 5. We generally get along other than comments here or there (usually something to do with our son/ her grandson) but I generally ignore them since everyone has their parenting styles. So, I think it depends on how well you get along and what the space is like (she lives in a separate basement apartment).

    I actually don’t think I could live with my own mother again, she is the critical one! LOL

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I think I am lucky in the sense that no one is critical on our sides… well, that is not true. My mother in law makes comments like: Oh I never had to do that.. but I am understanding it is just something to say, not something she means to be hurtful

  • SarahN

    It’s a no for me – my parents didn’t bring in their elders (the last of whom died last year) and there was no expectation or desire by the elders to do this. In one case, there was substantial financial means to ‘buy’ in home care til her final hospitalisation/palliative care. With the other, his living solo deferred his discharge and he ultimately died. Both were over 90 and neither’s death was too soon.

    I have dated different cultures, and know that’d be a HUGE consideration if we’d stayed together. Good friends MOVED HOUSE when her parents relationship was rocky, so the mother could bed with them. It had a big impact on their social life, I found. Not due to care of the mother, but the suburb they moved to was a huge change and further from where they were prior (and since).

    I don’t think my immediate idea would be to want them to live with me. But I also feel like we prolong life too much in this day and age and that’s a huge issue, financially, medically, in so many ways

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I would agree with you. I guess my idea is more that if they couldn’t care for themselves, perhaps it would be good for them to be with family until the end at least to have some good days rather than being alone in a home.. that’s all I can imagine – them alone in a home. If they are independent, why not? But my mother loves being with family, so I’d let her in for sure..

  • alana

    Oh this is a simple one: HECK NO!

    I’m West Indian, we typically live at home with our parents until we get married. There’s not a cultural expectation to pack up leave at 18 so from that point of view, the younger adult would be the one living with the older generation. We used to have a lot of extended families but over the last say two or so generations, as financial situations have improved, that’s become less of a thing. When you get married/start having kids there’s an expectation (and a desire) to leave your parents house. If your parents need help , you might provide a regular stipend or whatever practical support you can but generally, once you leave their house, you dont move back in with them and they done move in with you. Parents hold a lot of pride in their homes, they’re set in their ways and often live in open communities with family members near by so if they need help, others are close by to assist. Many often dont want to leave their homes and I dont need a mother-in-law looking over my shoulder in my own home, I’d rather assist in making her life comfortable in her own house. As our work lives become busier and families have less kids, there are now less people available to assist in communal family health care, so external home health care providers and nursing homes have become more of a thing

    I personally would not want to live with in-laws, if my partner is of a different point of view, I might be more open to an in-law suite but I would not share the same space with in-laws. If they need daily care, I would happy for my household to financially contribute to the cost of external home health care for them.

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