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Should You Live Close to Your Mother-in-Law?

Jeremy:
Should you live close to your mother-in-law?

Jeff:
It depends.

Jeremy:
Now I’m sure that there are lots of different ways to think about this question. You guys all have different mother-in-laws. You might think yes or no, probably a lot of you are wondering maybe I can get away with not, but we got an article that was shared around in our group that we thought was really interesting. There were two recent studies done, or I guess they were two studies done in general that came up with this idea, the grandmother hypothesis. And it was that the closer that a woman lives to her mother or her children’s grandmother, the more children that that woman would have.

And so, the study was done in two different places at two different times and this continues to bear out. And it makes sense, I guess totally at a logical level that we were really meant to live multi-generationally and grandmothers really do have an important role in the life of their grandchildren in caring and helping their daughter with that process, so that they can really continue to thrive. And so we’ve certainly enjoyed this a huge amount in our family, living closer to April’s mom when our kids were little. And now her mom actually lives with us.

But this is something I don’t think a lot of people think about. So the question is, should I live close to my mother-in-law? It might come down to how many kids do you want to have? You want to have a big family, then it might be good idea to live close to your mother-in-law. Now obviously, I don’t know your mother-in-law. Never met her. I’m not sure what she’s like. Hopefully, you have a decent relationship, but that’s a factor that I thought was interesting and that oftentimes maybe we don’t tease out. What do you think about that, Jeff?

Jeff:
Yeah, I feel like it totally makes sense, but it’s funny because we’re not willing to talk about that or want to have that conversation in our culture of just like, oh yeah, you’ll logically and statistically just have more kids if you live next to your parents. Now is that good? Is that bad? What does that mean for culture, etcetera? That’s the conversation I’d love to have in culture. Obviously, we think it’s good, but now of course there’s so much nuance there. There’s so much complexity there of living with next to your parents or with your parents or close to your parents. Is it a healthy relationship? Is it an unhealthy relationship? Is it somewhere in the middle and the Lord actually wants to kind of grow you in it even though it’s difficult? So actually stepping into it and leaning into it.

Lots there. But one thing I would say is yeah, I think it’s always interesting to me when even secular research starts to point towards biblical truth and that there is wisdom and blessing in multigenerational living. And then I think so many of us, we have to really ask ourselves, are we just trying to do it all and make our ideal family by ourselves? Because the scripture doesn’t call you to do that. And we’re not really like supposed to do that. And so, I like to tell people unless there’s a big toxic reason why maybe there needs to be some clear boundaries and some separation, then I think man, most of the time, if it’s just difficult but not toxic, I think we still are called to lean into it. Not even just for help with the kids, but just like for our own growth of our own soul, of our own life.

And so I think there’s something about that, that that’s the long play the Lord wants us to live in, be transformed in, and to grow in. And there’s just… man, I know so many people who the parents are just such a picture of sacrifice, right? Grandparents can be such a picture of like, man, they live their whole life and they’ve climbed this ladder of success and all these different things. And instead of just retiring in Florida, they actually say I just want to help. I just want to babysit. I just want to cook. I just want to pass this down.

That’s crazy that people are willing to do that. And it’s crazy that we don’t take advantage of that more when I think most of our parents would actually like want to do that. So I just think like yeah, there’s wisdom there, there’s truth there. And so I would just encourage anyone listening to lean into that. What can that look like? How can you do that in a healthy baby step way? Or if you already do live by them, just more thinking about it intentionally. And who knows? You might have more kids if you do it.

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