### Optimal Decision: Living 5 Miles Away from Parents with Kids – Balancing Trade-offs

Parenting: The Joys and Challenges of Living Near Family

Essay by Amber Adrian
2024-01-24T12:48:01Z

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The author and her family on Halloween.

Amber Adrian reflects on the advantages and drawbacks of residing in close proximity to her parents.

  • Approximately six years ago, I discovered I was expecting my second child.
  • My spouse and I made the decision to relocate to the quaint town where I spent my childhood, just 5 miles from my parents’ residence.
  • While they have been a source of assistance with our children, the proximity has presented its challenges.

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During the early stages of motherhood, I stumbled upon a blog post by Beth Berry that profoundly impacted me. It echoed my sentiments as a mother, particularly the overwhelming sense of isolation prevalent in modern parenting. The notion of “it takes a village” resonated as a stark reality, emphasizing the increased difficulty of parenting in today’s isolated societal structure.

Two years later, an unexpected pregnancy with our second child prompted my husband and me to act upon a casual discussion we had previously entertained: relocating from our urban dwelling to the rural setting of my upbringing.

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Despite our contentment in the city, the distance from friends and family, requiring a minimum 30-minute commute for any social interaction, led us to seek a simpler, more connected lifestyle. The allure of a slower pace and the proximity of my parents, eager to have us nearby, sealed our decision.

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Now in our sixth year in a town of nearly 20,000 residents, a mere 5 miles from my parents, our experience has been a blend of fulfillment and challenges.

Embracing the Support System of Family Proximity

The most significant advantage of our living arrangement has been the invaluable support extended by my parents. The convenience of requesting assistance such as picking up the children from school or enjoying a quiet dinner while they oversee bedtime has revolutionized our parenting experience. This communal approach to child-rearing fosters a sustainable and nurturing environment.

Adrian and her family relocated to her hometown to be near her parents.

Courtesy of the author

Mutual Benefits of Proximity for Children and Grandparents

The benefits extend beyond our immediate family; the close proximity has enriched the lives of our children and grandparents alike. Exposing our children to diverse perspectives and caregiving styles from multiple adults has a positive impact. Research indicates that the presence of grandparents in close proximity enhances their well-being and overall health.

Nurturing Intergenerational Bonds for the Future

Reflecting on my semester in Spain, I recall a poignant question posed by a local regarding the American inclination to distance themselves from parents. In many cultures, the norm involves adult children residing near or with their parents. The desire to care for my parents in their later years, reciprocating the support they provided me, feels inherently right.

However, alongside the benefits of living near family, challenges have emerged. The concept of “generational trauma,” familiar to many millennial mothers, underscores the importance of consciously evaluating and breaking familial patterns. Addressing unresolved childhood issues and striving to prevent their perpetuation requires substantial emotional and mental effort. Parenting in such proximity to one’s own parents intensifies this process, triggering past experiences and highlighting areas for personal growth.

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For instance, my upbringing instilled in me a reluctance to express emotions freely, emphasizing performance over emotional well-being. Contradicting this approach by encouraging my children to embrace their feelings has been met with resistance from my parents, who advocate a more stoic outlook. The challenge lies in imparting lessons to my children that I, in turn, did not receive, while processing the impact of this deficit on my upbringing.

Embracing Growth Amidst Challenges

Acknowledging the shortcomings of my upbringing, I initiated candid conversations with my parents, fostering understanding and growth. Parenting, as I now realize, is an arduous journey, demanding empathy and self-reflection. Despite the discomfort, these dialogues have paved the way for a deeper familial connection and personal healing.

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A phrase resonates with me in this context: “Hard doesn’t mean bad.” The complexities of our living arrangement have provided fertile ground for personal growth and authentic relationships. While we occasionally yearn for the urban pace, the tranquility of our current lifestyle has allowed us to prioritize what truly matters. Living near my parents has facilitated profound healing and enriched our familial bonds.

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