It is estimated that about 1.3 million families have at least one grandparent living with them. And that includes the new first family. So what advice can we give the Obamas now that they have the first granny living with them? There are a few things that Michelle, her mother Marian, and Barack can do to make living together a most harmonious experience.
Here are some tips for Michelle:
Make time to do things together with her mom and the children. Even though they may not be able to go out to dinner and the movies anymore, after the children are asleep they can sit down and have a nice cup of tea together so that they can nurture the relationship that way.
Always give mom plenty of notice when she needs her to babysit. Michelle doesn’t want to make her feel like the live-in sitter, so she should always let mom know that she would be happy to make other arrangements. As well, Michelle can encourage Marian to continue to nurture the interests and hobbies she had before she moved in with the first family.
Do not run to Mom if she needs to vent about her husband. It’s one thing when you see your mom a couple times a week; it’s another if you’re all living under the same roof. For example, when Harry Truman’s mother-in-law moved in, she never had anything good to say about Harry and caused a lot of tension in the White House. But the good news for Americans is that Marian adores Barack, so we are in good shape on that front!
Here are some tips for Marian:
Respect Michelle’s way of raising the children. Now that she is living with her grandchildren, she is going to adopt more parental responsibilities and should respect Michelle’s wishes for how she wants to raise the children. For example, Michelle likes her kids to eat organic food and limit their TV time. Of course, Marian still has grandmother privileges and can do a little spoiling, but not too much!
Make sure to take time to maintain friendships and interests of her own. It will be tricky to keep up the friendships she had back in Chicago, but she should find time to do the things that she loves to sustain as sense of independence.
Don’t always take her daughter’s side when things get tense between the couple. However, even Michelle says she appreciates when her mom takes Barack’s side at times, since it gives her an objective perspective! The main point is to simply try to validate Michelle’s feelings when things get tense between the couple.
Here are some tips for our President:
Compliment his MIL often by telling her what a great job she is doing as a grandma.
Send cards and flowers on her special days—birthday, Mother’s Day, and Mother-in-Law Day, which is the fourth Sunday in October.
Continue to treat Michelle and Marian like the partners that they are, and don’t forget that there are 360 other days of the year, so that they are not just receiving gifts solely on those particular holidays.