• Periodically check in with each other. If the stay extends past a few weeks, it would be wise to talk about how things are going. Arnzen made it a habit to periodically check in with her mother-in-law about the arrangements every few weeks. She also checked in to see how her children were coping, especially since one teenage daughter shares a bathroom with her grandmother.

• Take care of their spiritual health. If your family members are believers, then you have an added blessing of caring for their spiritual walk with God. It’s important, Arnzen says, to allow the family member to worship God in his or her own way at a church of their choosing.

For unbelieving in-laws or parents, in your house, feel free to set whatever rules you might need to, says Arnzen. If you’re in their house, don’t sweat the small stuff, unless it clearly violates Scripture.

Overall, while living with a family member — no matter whose house it is — can be stressful, it also can provide a wonderful opportunity for parents and grandparents and children to become closer. "These situations can be negative or positive — so much has to do with your mindset," says Arnzen.


Sarah Hamaker is a freelance writer based in Fairfax, Va. She can be reached at shamaker@earthlink.net.