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Thursday, 22 March 2001

Adult Children Living At Home

Written by  Fran Ackerman

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QDear WholeFamily Counselor,

I have been married for twenty-one years. I have three daughters. The two oldest have had a child (one each) within the last year. This has put a huge burden on myself and most of all, my wife. She spends a lot of time caring for the grandchildren. This is something she does not want full time. Both our daughters still live with us. I have asked them to get their own place. This has led to major problems between my wife and me.

Conflicted Husband and Father

AYour current situation presents you with a difficult challenge. Although you would like two of your daughters to "get their own place," your wife apparently does not agree with you. In spite of her reluctance to be a full time caretaker to her grandchildren, she will not ask any of the children to leave home. This difference creates a division in the family, your wife and daughters against you, with you as the "bad guy."

In the face of your wife's and daughter's opposition, your only chance to have the latter move out would require taking a very strong position that might force your wife to choose between her husband and daughters. This stance would be perceived as extremely harsh by your family and may seriously harm your relationships with them. I therefore would not recommend this strategy.

The problems between you and your wife are, I assume, related to your attempts to change her, to advise her regarding her behavior toward your children and grandchildren. I advise that, as much as possible, you stop trying to change your wife. If she complains to you about, for example, the burden she is experiencing, listen sympathetically; do not even talk to her about an alternative. She knows what it is.

Instead of focusing on her, define for yourself the kind of father and grandfather you want to be -- how much you wish to give and what your limits are. When you accept your wife, you may no longer be a target of her anger. This may enable her to eventually reassess the situation. It is only with her as a partner that you will be able to move toward a less demanding nest.

Fran Ackerman,
WholeFamily Expert

Last modified on Friday, 15 April 2011 15:16
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Fran Ackerman

Fran Ackerman

Fran Ackerman received her MSW from Simmons School of Social Work in Boston. She did postgraduate training in family therapy at the Ackerman Institute, Georgetown Family Center and at the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic. Her major interest is Bowen Family Systems Theory. She is currently on the faculty of the Hebrew University School of Social Work and has been on the faculty of the Ackerman Institute and the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic.

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