Young People Ask . . .
How Can I Adjust Now That My Grandparents Live With Us?
YOU always got along well with your grandparents. Time you spent with them was enjoyable, special. But now they have moved in with your family.
When grandparents move in, it may mean making adjustments for everyone concerned.* All need to adjust to one another’s ways. But the situation is far from hopeless. By applying Bible principles, you can help your family to pull together, not pull apart.
The Power of Love
One way to minimize family tensions is to apply the principle at 1 Corinthians 16:14: “Let all your affairs take place with love.” Christian love “covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) And as a study in the journal Family Relations showed, genuine love and affection for one’s elderly folks have practical value; it minimizes the stresses and strains of care-giving.
Unfortunately, not all youths feel such affection for their grandparents. Some view them with disdain, as being old and useless. But Christian youths do not view old ones in this way. They recall the words of Proverbs 20:29: “The splendor of old men is their gray-headedness.” Yes, your grandparents have maturity and experience. They may be an excellent source of advice and guidance, especially if they are Christians. And like most grandparents, they probably care for you far more deeply than you realize.—Proverbs 17:6.
If your relationship has not been the closest up till now, why not try to change things? One teenage girl thus decided to make a gesture of friendship. She recalls: “I bought my grandmother a pair of socks in a color combination I knew she would like. She showed those socks to everyone who visited!” Along similar lines, you might try taking a few minutes every day to make conversation. Or you could offer to run an errand for them. Doing so may do much to draw you close to them.
Granted, circumstances may put everyone’s love to the test. It can be difficult for older ones to adjust to new surroundings. They may be ill and not always in the best of moods. And while you may have to make some adjustments in your life-style—perhaps even sacrifices—realize that it is no bed of roses for your grandparents either. Indeed, these may be “calamitous days” for them. (Ecclesiastes 12:1) Appreciate that these ones cared for your parents when they were young. God views the care you render your grandparents as “due compensation” and as an expression of your devotion to him.—1 Timothy 5:4; James 1:27.
The Art of Compromise
Problems can often be avoided, though, if you show unselfish consideration for your grandparents. (Philippians 2:4) For example, you can bear in mind that elderly ones are often very sensitive to noise; loud music may upset them. (Ecclesiastes 12:4) They may also be upset if you make noise whenever you have friends over. Such issues could easily become the source of bickering. But the Bible reminds us that “the wisdom from above is . . . peaceable, reasonable.”—James 3:17.
A peaceable person promotes peace. He is willing to go out of his way—even at the cost of personal convenience—to maintain good relations with others. Similarly, a reasonable person does not insist on his own way all the time but is willing to yield to another person’s viewpoint. With those thoughts in mind, try approaching your grandparents calmly. Rather than demanding your “rights,” try working out compromises.
Perhaps your friends can visit on the days your grandparents go shopping. Or maybe they would be more tolerant of the noise in the first place if your friends simply visited at an earlier hour. Of course, agreement is not always possible, and it may be best simply to yield to their preference. Perhaps you can see your friends at another location or wear headphones when you want to listen to music. Inconvenient? No doubt. But by doing so you help maintain peace.
The ability to compromise also comes in handy if your grandparents have habits that disturb you. For example, they may not seem to respect your privacy. Perhaps they may want to chat when you are busy doing your homework. Rather than getting upset, realize that they are probably a bit lonely and simply desire your company. Isolating yourself or snubbing them would only aggravate the situation and show a lack of respect for them. (Proverbs 18:1) Nineteen-year-old Chris worked out a compromise. He says: “I take the initiative to talk with my grandmother at times convenient for both of us.”
Keep Your Balance
What if your grandparents need considerable personal attention and care? Loving your grandparents does not mean you must carry this responsibility single-handedly. Indeed, the Bible indicates that such duties should be shared among Christian ‘children and grandchildren.’ (1 Timothy 5:4) Your parents therefore have the primary responsibility in this regard and can determine what an equitable share of the work would be. Besides, 1 Peter 1:13 urges Christians to “keep [their] senses completely,” or as the footnote rendering of this verse puts it, “keep balanced.” To take on an inordinate share of work could wear you out and, in the long run, nurture resentment.
Christian balance will also help you cope with your own limitations as well as those of your family members. True, all should make special efforts to display the ‘fruitage of God’s spirit.’ (Galatians 5:22, 23) But in spite of the best of intentions, family members may tend to lose their patience. Rather than becoming exasperated, accept the fact that “we all stumble many times. If anyone does not stumble in word, this one is a perfect man, able to bridle also his whole body.” (James 3:2) Occasional family friction is really no cause for serious alarm.
Much good can be done if you simply communicate with your parents. “There is a frustrating of plans where there is no confidential talk.” (Proverbs 15:22) For example, are you feeling tense and irritable because you no longer have a room of your own? Are you concerned because you think that you are carrying an unfair share of the burden of caring for your grandparents? Instead of sulking or becoming depressed, let your parents know how you feel.
Of course, your parents may be under stress themselves and may have little power to change things. So find the right time to speak to them in a calm, not demanding, tone, approaching the problem as one you face in common. (Proverbs 15:23) Be truthful and clear in identifying what is bothering you. (Ephesians 4:25) Once matters are out in the open, you may at the very least gain a sympathetic ear. And it may even be possible to find workable solutions.
Perhaps an area in the house can be set aside for your use when you need a private place to read or study. Or maybe more chores can be shared if you have brothers and sisters. In one family it was decided that the teenage son would read to his grandmother—something they both enjoyed and looked forward to. His two sisters were assigned to assist with dressing and washing her.
A Rewarding Experience
No doubt about it, having grandparents at home may be a new experience in life—for them and for you. But if all show patience, love, and a willingness to yield, it can prove to be a very rewarding experience. You may have an opportunity to develop a warm, loving bond with two wise and experienced people who truly care for you. Such a friendship may prove to be far more satisfying than a short-lived relationship with a peer. And it may help you to grow as a person. One young woman named Beverly says: “I view helping my grandmother as an opportunity to learn self-sacrificing qualities that I will need later in life.”
A youth named Aaron made a similar discovery. He says: “Spending time with my grandmother taught me to talk to older ones in my congregation. I used just to say hello to them. Now I take a few minutes to talk to each one. I enjoy it! And I’ve come to view these older ones as my friends.”
So do more than just put up with the situation; make the most of it! In time you may come to bless the day your grandparents moved in.
See the article “Why Did Our Grandparents Move In?” appearing in our July 8, 1992, issue.
[Picture on page 19]
The friendship you enjoy with your grandparents may prove to be richly satisfying