Dear Grandparenting: I am closing in on a decision about moving. My daughter is practically begging me to pull up stakes and relocate in Missouri to help with my grandchildren. Of course, she throws in tidbits about how she will be there to help me in my old age and all kinds of other sweet talk. But I know what the real deal is. She wants me to help out and assume a greater role in the lives of my grandchildren.
I am conflicted in a big way. I kind of like it here in Kingsport. The pace is perfect and the people are great. This has been my hometown since 1977. I have turned this thing over in my head time and again. I am leaning toward going, to be closer to my family. I suppose that is reason enough for many. What keeps me awake is worrying about whether I am forgetting to consider something important. What are the pros and cons of making a move like this in your book? Going Dizzy, Kingsport, Tennessee
Dear Dizzy: We tend to think of America as a geographically mobile nation, with people increasingly moving hither and yon. Actually, that’s not the case. The percentage of Americans who change their residence is at its lowest level since the late 1940s, says Pew Research. Forty percent never leave their hometowns. Analysts attribute this decline to an aging U.S. population. Moving is a younger person’s game. The rise of two-career couples also makes moving more problematic, and telecommuters who work from home never have to move.
What’s this have to do with you? Perhaps families are not as dispersed as commonly believed. Many grandparents still live in reasonable proximity to family and are not faced with your dilemma. And not every grandparent has the desire or wherewithal to pull up stakes to move closer to their grandchildren.
There are real risks in moving. It means leaving old friends and is a major adjustment. Can you tolerate such a disruption? Can you afford to rent nearby your daughter and test the waters before making the big leap?
Here’s what we’d want to know if we were in your shoes: We hate to be crass, but does your daughter need financial assistance? Does she your expect you to be the economic solution to her problems? Do have other grown children? What do they think? What’s the strength of your relationship with your daughter? What sort of personal boundaries do you need to maintain in order to be happy? How will you spend your time in Missouri? Do you want more out of life than being a full-time grandparent? How good are you at establishing new relationships? Who will replace the friends you leave behind? Finally, would you want to move if your daughter had not asked?
These are not easy questions, but dealing with them now is imperative. It’s nice to be wanted, but what do you want? This is one mistake you don’t want to make. How many more moves do you have in you?
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Jayden Jones of Charlottesville, Virginia, always loads up on snacks when the grandchildren are due to arrive. This is not lost on her granddaughter Ellen, 9. “No matter how much I eat, Grandma cannot believe I’m not hungry.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.