Extended families are common in the subcontinent and apparently increasing in popularity throughout the world because of economic situations. There are many benefits to living in an extended family and possibly (probably) equal or more challenges. If you’re raising an only-child almost all the challenges become amplified – so the question is it is a good idea or not?
Of course there are certain situations where you may not have a choice of living with the in-laws. But moving in or in our case, back with the in-laws was a conscious decision. We knew we’d have to deal with
- Interference in ‘family’ matters
- Meal decision struggles
- Head on collisions between the multiple ‘matriarchs’ in the family
- Clashing of schedules
- ..and oh this list could go on forever
But the biggest challenge that I’ve faced is the constant tug-of-war of parenting/child raising techniques. It’s the ‘In our time vs. new age’ parenting techniques. The perfect example being chai (tea) which nearly every grandparent in Pakistan tries to feed babies from the moment they start solids. My reaction to this? I want to stand up and yell
“IT DISSOLVES ALL THE IRON IN THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM – WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT TO THE KID???”
Of course, any daughter-in-law on this side of the world knows your don’t get to talk to your in-laws that way…so it becomes a constant, ‘polite’ struggle. Regular anxious peeking over the shoulders during tea time to make sure no one is smuggling a sip into your precious child’s mouth.
And that’s the bottom line – the constant but polite struggles vs. the endless companionship an only child WILL benefit from with grandparents and other family members around. I’ve already seen a positive change in kiddo’s confidence and it’s only been a few week. Plus, the constant pressure of keeping her engaged and busy has been alleviated somewhat.
I suppose eventually it falls on everyone’s shoulders to earn each others respect and provide the required space for to become one BIG happy family. Anyone else out there thinking living with the in-laws is a GOOD thing? Would really love to hear about your experiences.