A grandfather and grandson playing with cars on the couch


Multi-Generational Living — Why I Welcome My Dad Moving In With Us

Sep 3, 2018

I have fond memories of my grandmother living with us when I was younger. That’s why when my parents can no longer live alone, they will live with me, too.

Grandparents are one of the best gifts I think parents can give their children.

As our parents age, we need them as much as they need us.

My dad recently moved to the city where we live so he could be closer to his grandchildren. Before moving, my dad lived two hours away, which meant we sometimes went long stretches without seeing each other because of our equally busy schedules. But now that he lives in the same city, we see him regularly — and it has benefited us all.

I see how happy my kids are when we walk into my dad’s place for dinner every week — and how sad they are when we have to miss it.

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We got a test run of what living with my dad may look like after he stayed with us for a month while he was waiting to move into his new home. It wasn’t perfect — my kids ate way more sugary sweets than they would have otherwise because, like most grandparents, my dad likes to spoil his grandkids with candy. But my kids were excited to come home from school and my dad was excited to walk to the bus stop to greet them (and he doesn’t ever walk anywhere).

I saw how much vitality he had. And my dad, who chronically complains of aches and pains, didn’t do that once that month. Here’s the thing: As our parents age, we need them as much as they need us.

I see how happy my kids are when we walk into my dad’s place for dinner every week — and how sad they are when we have to miss it.

If you already live with a parent, the good news is that you’re not alone. 

Multi-generational households are the fastest growing type of household in Canada, according to the latest census numbers. In 2016, about 2.2 million Canadians — or 6.6 per cent of us who live in private households — lived in multi-generational households. Those numbers have been steadily increasing for the last 15 years.

Some of our friends already have parents living with them, so I know it’s coming. But when it does happen, I worry about how our multi-generational household will work.

Will my kids become unruly living with my dad? Will my bond with my father grow tense as we traverse the new landscape of our relationship? Will my sisters get jealous that my dad is so involved with my kids but not with theirs? (They live hours away.) Will I grow resentful of being the one to take dad to his doctor appointments, bank appointments and being, effectively, his personal assistant as I manage my family and work life? What will we do if more than one parent needs to live with us? How will we manage?

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But mostly, I worry about whether my dad will grow weary of not having his own place to call home.

Now that dad lives in the same city, I often go with him to medical and financial appointments. During those times, I’m keenly aware of the importance of maintaining his dignity. I sometimes have to remind myself that even though he’s getting older, he’s still in control of his life. I bite my tongue so that I don’t over-explain things he already understands (a mistake I have made in the past). I resist the urge to tell him what to do when it comes to health and financial decisions unless he specifically asks for my two cents.

But mostly, I realize that my dad moved closer so that he wouldn’t feel so lonely — living alone for more than 15 years will do that to a person.

And so I know that the most important thing I can do when my dad needs to live with us is do what my parents did with my grandmother — be there and welcome him in.

Article Author Kelly Pedro
Kelly Pedro

Kelly Pedro is a former journalist turned freelance writer who specializes in writing about education, health and literacy. Her work has appeared in several publications including The London Free Press, The Toronto Star and Today’s Parent. She lives in Kitchener, Ontario with her husband, three children and Juno, the Bernese mountain dog. Connect with Kelly on her website, Twitter, LinkedIn or Alignable.

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