How to deal when parents live with parents

Back home again ... parents living with parents ... many have found themselves is this position. There are many circumstances that lead up to this situation; caring for an aging parent, need of temporary housing while moving or building a home, or perhaps needing a place to stay during a time of unforeseen transition. Often times, the intention of temporary turns into long term. Since it was just to be temporary, more than likely no ground rules were set, no expectations were voiced, and eventually conflicts arise.

One set of tools that might help ease a tense living situation would be the pen and paper. Since emotional conversations may have become a habit, try having each involved "resident" make a list of expectations and goals. Under expectations, list basic reciprocal considerations, estimated length of residency, and monetary considerations. Under each goal, list a step by step plan of action of how to achieve it. Then trade the lists amongst those involved and take turns making notes and asking questions in the margins. Trade the lists back. On a "good" day, take the time to unemotionally consider the margin notes. If warranted, rewrite the list incorporating any good suggestions. Trade the lists again. If notes in the margin come back with new suggestions, repeat the process.

Set a time for a "house" meeting. Staying on topic using the lists, come to an agreed upon set of house expectations. Perhaps making a sign for the refrigerator might be a helpful reminder while new habits are being formed. Next present the goals that have been outlined. Saying things out loud somehow makes it real and accountability is a great motivator.

A pen and paper are accessible to all and can go a long way to taking the emotions out of solving issues that continually become escalated by emotions.

The Parents And Children Together Department of Family Support Council is funded by The Smallwood Foundation, Family to Family Connection and Nevada's Children's Trust.

n Teri Clark is a parent educator at the Family Support Council of Douglas County. To reach her, call 782-8692 or visit


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