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My Daughter Feels Trapped, Living With Grandma



"My daughter moved in with my 85 year old mother and it seems that she took on more than she planned. She now feels obligated to take care of her grandmother, and the needs are real.

My single daughter is 30 years old and has had a series of failures in school, work and love. Financially, she isn’t doing well, and staying with grandma was a rent-free situation for her. 

Now, the reality of living with an elderly person is starting to sink in. My mother is dependent for transportation, grocery shopping, medical appointments, some cooking, and house maintenance. My daughter has never been someone you can rely on consistently. 

Really, I don’t think either party thought this living situation through. They both complain about each other and don’t know where to go from here. I feel caught in the middle, even though I advised against this situation in the first place.

What is someone in the middle supposed to do?"



Oh my! Two loved ones have entered into a sort of well-meaning situation, but one that was not well considered.

It appears your daughter saw grandma’s house as a free room and board deal, with few strings attached. Your mother and maybe others in the family saw it as a caregiving situation.

For the record, caregiving is very real work. It is difficult, tiring, and the needs tend to grow over time as the person ages. Moving in with an elderly person usually implies that you intend to handle the household chores, especially when you don’t contribute financially. It doesn’t sound like the details were worked out in advance, which has created turmoil.

You could attempt to bring the two together to establish some parameters or expectations. If you do attempt this conversation, write down what they decide and ask each party to sign it. 

If you believe your daughter is in over her head and will never follow through on an agreement, then she is not an appropriate roommate/caregiver for your mother. Staying in this situation will not make it easier, and their relationship will become further strained.

Without saying, “I told you so,” help your daughter find another place to live that’s more suited to her.  It almost certainly won’t be free, but everything of value in life has a cost. She needs to move on. 

Explain to your mother that at this time in her granddaughter’s life, the responsibility of a house and a grandparent is just too much for her to manage. Help your mother secure other solutions for transportation, shopping, and house care. From what you describe, your mother requires assistance. Researching and locating the services your mother needs is a task you can help her with, be it family members or paid help. 

The most important thing you can do at this point is get your mother help, and release your daughter to adulthood. This is not an easy family situation and it won’t resolve positively over time on its own. Your daughter may just leave one day in anger or frustration, and your mother will flounder without any assistance. It’s best to jump in now and se tup a new plan. 

I wish you well as you navigate this situation.