Having grown children who are independent, even raising families of their own, is a source of pride and accomplishment for parents. The natural evolution of a family in the U.S. is for children to be launched successfully into the world, leaving parents in their empty nest to someday retire and enjoy the freedom from so much responsibility that they have earned after years of childrearing.
While it's true that the majority of Americans live near their parents once they have left home, there are still many young adults who plant roots far from where their parents live.
Many stay in the town where they went to college, move to up and coming cities with affordable housing, or follow a girlfriend or boyfriend to where they choose to start their lives. As young adults' lives develop and change, including marriage and family, parents may consider retirement or relocation to be near their young adult kids.
Is that a good idea?
Should parents move to be near their kids?
Parents must think carefully about uprooting themselves to move to be near their children. It sounds like a good choice at first consideration, but many factors must be pondered before coming to a conclusion.
The first thing to discuss is quality of life.
Weather is a big factor. If you have lived all your life in a warm weather location, relocating to a cold or rainy place could be not only physically challenging but also emotionally difficult. Likewise, if you love the four seasons and the contrast of cold winters vs. hot summers, living where it is sunny and warm most of the time could prove to be boring.
Where is your grown child located? If you like to travel, enjoy theater, city life and being busy and active, living in a suburban town far from a metropolitan area could limit your options. Check to see if there are activities for retirees in the community - perhaps volunteer opportunities, social groups, or cultural organizations - where you can keep your mind and body energized and stimulated.
Finding friends is not easy. If you are very social, moving away from your circle of friends and acquaintances could be very difficult. While not impossible, it can be challenging to make new and meaningful friendships in a strange city when you are a retiree, especially if you build your life around your nearby children and grandchildren. One caveat is if you choose to move to a retirement community, making connections will be much easier.
What will your role be in the family?
Will you become the babysitter? Spending time with grandchildren should be a delight, rather than a responsibility. While some families depend on grandparents to care for their children due to financial constraints and lack of quality childcare, grandparents must be comfortable with the amount of time they devote to caring for their grandkids and not grow to resent their children's dependency on them.
How does your child's spouse feel? While your grown child may be thrilled to have you nearby and able to stop in for visits frequently, his or her spouse may not be quite so excited. Be sure to stay alert to signals that indicate that you may be overstaying your welcome if you do move to be close to your family. You don't want to become a burden rather than a blessing.
How can it benefit you?
Support that is nearby. If you are battling a chronic illness or have a disability, having grown children within driving distance can be a huge help. While you probably don't want to ask too much of your grown kids, in difficult situations you - and your children - will be glad that you are near each other. Having another ear at doctor's appointments, having help with managing finances, even simply knowing that they are just a phone call away - these things can be a great comfort to those who are not in the best of health.
Enjoy your family! There's a lot to be said for not having to travel by car or plane long distances to be with those you love the most. In the long run, being near your children and grandchildren could be just the thing you need to stay fulfilled.