Multi-Generational Living: An Exercise in Love, Patience, and Co-Parenting

Welcome to the May 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting With or Without Extended Family

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how relatives help or hinder their parenting. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Mimi and BabyGirl

Two grandparents. Two parents. Two dogs. And a baby.


Sound crazy? We certainly thought we were the day we sold half of our belongings, put the other half in storage, and moved in with my parents. Such a move is not for the faint of heart.

My mother is a saucy, loving, and incredibly intelligent woman. She wears her heart on her sleeve and will give it to you if you ask. My father is a mild-mannered, caring, “do anything to help someone out” type of man. He also thinks coffee is a bedtime beverage and works harder than most people I know. The two of them together make a mean team, a salsa dancing and traveling duo with an unwavering love for their offspring.

Multi-generational living might be the socially appropriate term, but in reality it became an exercise in co-parenting. It was an opportunity to gain wisdom, as we parented alongside two more seasoned professionals. I really don’t think there is anything greater than a child who not only has parents to love and care for her, but grandparents as well. The seven months we shared a home with my parents ended up being one long lesson in parenting and love.

There were many nights in those early months of my daughter’s life that my husband and I were exhausted from the endless night wakings and the ritualistic soothing that followed. Sometimes I would be in tears, wondering how I could physically stand to bounce my daughter any longer, and there would appear my mother. Silently taking the baby, she would prod me back to bed. I never asked, but her support was always there.

My father travels a lot for his business. But when he was home, there was never a greater draw in the world than the smile and attention of my daughter. Writing my graduate thesis during my daughter’s first year of life shouldn’t have been possible. But it happened with the help of a Poppi who was always willing to salsa dance his granddaughter to sleep.

We recently left my parent’s home as my husband took a job in another state. Moving was bittersweet. Long gone are the shared meals, outings to IKEA (just because), and the time spent learning and growing with each other. But what we do have is a heartfelt connection—born out of sharing a home and co-parenting a special little girl—that can withstand Skype dates, cross-country flights, and chatty phone conversations.

Several months post-move, the three of us watched a salsa concert at the park downtown. As my daughter bopped and swayed to the beat, I couldn’t help but smile. It reminded me that distance or not, my parents will always be a part of her life, and for that I am incredibly grateful.

After 7 months of living with her parents, Kate and her hubby, Kirk, can’t stop dancing in the kitchen, random aisles at the grocery store, or wherever they happen to hear a good beat. Kate is upholding her promise to her parents to continue the salsa tradition with her little one. You can read more about her family’s dancing adventures at Boomerang Mama.



Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today!


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Dealing With Unsupportive Grandparents — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, The Pistachio Project tells what to do when your child’s grandparents are less than thrilled about your parenting choices.
  • Parenting With Extended Family — Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy shares the pros and cons of parenting with extended family…
  • Parental Support for an AP Mama — Meegs at A New Day talks about the invaluable support of her parents in her journey to be an AP mama.
  • Priceless GrandparentsThat Mama Gretchen reflects on her relationship with her priceless Grammy while sharing ways to help children preserve memories of their own special grandparents.
  • Routines Are Meant To Be Broken — Olga at Around The Birthing Ball urges us to see Extended Family as a crucial and necessary link between what children are used to at home and the world at large.
  • It Helps To Have A Village – Even A Small One — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses how she has flourished as a mother due to the support of her parents.
  • The Orange Week — Erika at Cinco de Mommy lets go of some rules when her family finally visits extended family in San Diego.
  • One Size Doesn’t Fit All — Kellie at Our Mindful Life realizes that when it comes to family, some like it bigger and some like it smaller.
  • It Takes a Family — Alicia at What’s Next can’t imagine raising a child without the help of her family.
  • A new foray into family — As someone who never experienced close extended family, Lauren at Hobo Mama wrestles with how to raise her kids — and herself — to restart that type of community.
  • My Mama Rocks! — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment is one lucky Mama to have the support and presence of her own awesome Mama.
  • Embracing Our Extended Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares 7 ideas for nurturing relationships with extended family members.
  • Doing Things Differently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares how parenting her children far away from extended family improved her confidence in her choices.
  • Snapshots of love — Caroline at stoneageparent describes the joys of sharing her young son’s life with her own parents.
  • Parenting with Relies – A mixed bagUrsula Ciller shares some of her viewpoints on the pros and cons of parenting with relatives and extended family.
  • Tante and Uncles — How a great adult sibling relationship begets a great relationship with aunt and uncles from Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy.
  • Tips for Traveling With Twins — Megan at the Boho Mama shares some tips for traveling with infant twins (or two or more babies!).
  • Parenting passed through the generations — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about the incredible parenting resource that is her found family, and how she hopes to continue the trend.
  • My Family and My Kids — Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders whether she distrusts her family or if she is simply a control freak.
  • Parenting with a Hero — Rachel at Lautaret Bohemiet reminisces about the relationship she shared with her younger brother, and how he now shares that closeness in a relationship with her son.
  • Text/ended Family — Kenna of A Million Tiny Things wishes her family was around for the Easter egg hunt… until she remembers what it’s actually like having her family around.
  • Two Kinds of Families — Adrienne at Mommying My Way writes about how her extended family is just as valuable to her mommying as her church family.
  • My ‘high-needs’ child and ‘strangers’ — With a ‘high-needs’ daughter, aNonyMous at Radical Ramblings has had to manage without the help of family or friends, adapting to her daughter’s extreme shyness and allowing her to socialise on her own terms.
  • Our Summer Tribe — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger shares a love of her family’s summer reunion, her secret to getting the wisdom of the “village” even as she lives 1,000 miles away.
  • My Life Boat {Well, One of Them} — What good is a life boat if you don’t get it? Grandparents are a life boat MomeeeZen loves!
  • Dear Children — In an open letter to her children, Laura at Pug in the Kitchen promises to support them as needed in her early days of parenting.
  • Yearning for Tribal Times — Ever had one of those days where everything seems to keep going wrong? Amy at Anktangle recounts one such day and how it inspired her to think about what life must’ve been like when we lived together in large family units.
  • I don’t have a village — Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama wishes she had family nearby but appreciates their support and respect.
  • Trouble With MILs– Ourselves? — Jaye Anne at Wide Awake Half Asleep explains how her arguments with her mother-in-law may have something to do with herself.
  • A Family Apart — Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings writes about the challenges, and the benefits, of building a family apart from relatives.
  • First Do No Harm — Zoie at TouchstoneZ asks: How do you write about making different parenting choices than your own family experience without criticizing your parents?
  • Military Family SeparationAmy Willa shares her feelings about being separated from extended family during her military family journey.
  • Forging A Village In The Absence Of One — Luschka from Diary of a First Child writes about the importance of creating a support network, a village, when family isn’t an option.
  • Respecting My Sister’s Parenting Decisions — Dionna at Code Name: Mama‘s sister is guest posting on the many roles she has as an aunt. The most important? She is the named guardian, and she takes that role seriously.
  • Multi-Generational Living: An Exercise in Love, Patience, and Co-Parenting — Boomerang Mama at The Other Baby Book shares her experience of moving back in with Mom and Dad for 7 months, and the unexpected connection that followed.
  • A Heartfelt Letter to Family: Yes, We’re Weird, but Please Respect Us Anyway — Sheila of A Living Family sincerely expresses ways she would appreciate her extended family’s support for her and her children, despite their “weird” parenting choices.
  • The nuclear family is insane! — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle is grateful for family support, wishes her Mum lived closer, and feels an intentional community would be the ideal way to raise her children.

20 thoughts on “Multi-Generational Living: An Exercise in Love, Patience, and Co-Parenting

  1. We’re moving in with my parents in a few weeks … except there will be 2 grandparents, 2 parents, 2 aunts and a toddler (with a baby being born during our stay)! I think we’ll be there for 4 months or so while our house is being built – craziness! But, we’re all excited 🙂 Thanks for the great post!

    1. Good luck! It surely is an adventure to move back in with mom and dad. Let us know how it goes and congrats on building the new house!

    1. Thanks Alicia! We are very fortunate to have such great parents. I would say my husband and I look on them more as friends, and we miss hanging out with them. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t perfect and we had our issues, but we made it work. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Pingback: A Family Apart
  3. Thanks for sharing this post about multigenerational living, the following sentence particualrly resonates with me; ‘I really don’t think there is anything greater than a child who not only has parents to love and care for her, but grandparents as well.’
    This mirrors my own feelings abut my parents, who though they don’t live with us live 35 mins away and are very involved in my son’s life.

  4. Your salsa ritual is awesome! And well done living with the parents for 7 months in relative harmony. I guess it’s those moments of joy that will be remembered and continued by parents and grandchildren alike 🙂

    1. Thanks Ursula! My parents weren’t always such “dancing fools.” But they’ve embraced it, and I guess, so have we. 🙂

    1. It’s so hard being away from parents (and your little one’s grandparents), isn’t it? I’m not sure I’ll ever be 100% ok with it, but I realize that this is where we need to be for this point in our lives. I hope that my post brought you some peace, at least to realize that you’re not the only one.

      Thank you for reading.

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