1) Just because you’ve forgiven the parent for bad things they did when you were younger, if you haven’t forgotten, you might still carry resentment that may bubble up to the surface from time to time. If you’re an adult, and you haven’t forgiven them, I highly suggest seeing a therapist.
2) Your parent still thinks of you as their child. They might call you when you’re a few minutes late getting home from work and say things like, “Where are you? Are you OK? I was worried.”
3) They probably still have the same characteristics they had when you were young (i.e. if they were lazy and dependent on you when you were young, they will probably be the same when they are older. If they were manipulative, rude, or bossy, they will more than likely continue to be so.) In fact, the bad habits they had before are probably worse.
4) Set expectations and boundaries before he or she moves in. Let them know which day of the week you can take them to the bank or Wal-Mart, etc. You can be as flexible as you want, but don’t let them coerce you into taking you Wal-Mart three times if you told them that you would only be going once. A detailed social contract is very important if your relationship is to survive.
5) Insist that they treat you with respect, using terms like “please” and “thank you” when they want you to do something for you.
6) Make time for YOU. Let your parent know that you need time alone with your other loved ones or friends without him or her. Don’t let him or her guilt you into always taking you along.
7) Know that once your parent moves into your house, it can be hard to move him or her out. Just think about it. How are you going to get your parent out if they don’t want to leave?
8) Insist on taking your parent to a retirement community for tours and free meal BEFORE they move in with you, so they can see just how good some of these places can be in terms of regular meals and socialization opportunities.
9) Learn to say no. A great book on this topic is Speaking the Truth in Love: How to be an Assertive Christian by Koch and Haugk.
10) Read up on living with and communicating with seniors. I recommend the book How to Say It to Seniors: Closing the Communication Gap with Our Elders by David Solie.
11) Your relationship will not be perfect, and you will say things you may feel bad about. Forgive yourself and start over. Try to count to 20 and breathe deeply (or wait a while until you’ve calmed down ) before confronting your parent about their behavior or the issue. State the behavior you believe needs to be changed and how you would like it to change. Explain why you don’t like the behavior. For example, “Mom, when you tell me to do things instead of asking and using the word “please”, it makes me feel like you are bossing me around.” This is upsetting me, and I need it to change, so from now on, I will remind you how to politely ask me to do something before I do it for you. I need you to work on this behavior if we are to live together.
I am by no means perfect. Almost everyday, I look forward to having my own house back and not hearing my mom call me from across the house, wanting me to do something for her or wanting me to come to her, so she can tell me something trite she just saw on the TV like a commercial she thought was funny. Sometimes, she says something quite rude or unnerving, and I end up snapping at her. I’m constantly working to correct behaviors that I find difficult as well as my reactions, and it’s a daily battle. So…best of luck, and if you can avoid having your parent move in with you, do it!