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Forums / Multicultural experiences / elderly immigrant parents living with adult children - stressful

Topic: elderly immigrant parents living with adult children - stressful

5 posts, 0 answered
  1. bluskiy
    bluskiy avatar
    1 posts
    22 December 2017
    Our family is Chinese - father, mother, daughter (me). My grandparents immigrated about 3 years ago on a parent visa because they wanted to live with us in Australia. Unfortunately, we have nothing in common with them, and we aren't close. Because of this, the household has a very tense atmosphere-- even though we live under one roof, it feels like two families are living there. I think the effects are more poignant because we remembered being relaxed and free to move around the home before they came and now we don't have that relaxed feeling. It doesn't feel like "home" anymore.

    We don't understand why they feel the need to cling on to my dad (their son), to the extent of following him overseas and intruding on our family since they were financially and socially fine back in China (all their friends and relatives are back there)!

    It's hard to articulate the magnitude of the stress we're under as well - we want them to be happy but at the same time them being here disrupted our family life in only a negative way.

    Right now, we don't know what to do. We want to live apart from them. We think having an open discussion is the best way to communicate this but we doubt they'd be honest with their feelings. My dad has checked up on them countless times before, and they'd always say they're "fine" but it's hard to believe because they don't know english, they're very quiet, they don't have many friends/no close friends, or any interest in spending the rest of their days in a fulfilling manner. Also, it's almost certain they'd interpret our desire to live apart as abandoning them.

    We wish we could find a way to communicate our feelings, and for them to honestly communicate theirs so we can find a living arrangement that doesn't cause so much misery... I've looked at counselling but it's hard to find one that deals specifically with the Chinese parent-adult child relationship. Any advice is appreciated: this has been going on for 3 years already...
    1 person found this helpful
  2. geoff
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    geoff avatar
    16254 posts
    23 December 2017 in reply to bluskiy
    hello Bluskiy, I understand your circumstances and think that your grandparents need to be moved into a nursing home and there are Chinese nursing homes so if you google 'chinese nursing homes in australia' up will come various Chinese ones, and when you contact them they will be able to assist you further.
    They have come to Australia and have to abide by our rules, which means that elderly people need the care of people who can handle them, to me they should not be intruding on your space and shouldn't have come over here just to live with you, in other words it's inconvenient for them to live with you.
    In life what we need to do is to look after ourselves first and foremost, so that's exactly what you need to do, you can't be dominated by what has happened against your wishes. Geoff.
  3. bindi-QLD
    bindi-QLD avatar
    211 posts
    23 December 2017 in reply to geoff

    Great reply Geoff.

    That sounds like a massively stressful situation bluskiy. I feel it would be perfectly reasonable to ask them to move into their own place. If they are concerned about being abandoned, could you come to some agreement about visiting them? I guess it would depend on where they move, but if it was close, you could agree to call regularly and drop in one a week or something.

    Just as warning, my partner's Bio father married a chinese woman, and later in life her Chinese mother moved in. That was ok with everyone as she mainly cooked and has a very upbeat personality. But then came her siblings from China, then some more. There were fights about that, but the Chinese got their way. My partner is concerned because his father is elderly with some health issues, and his house has been overtaken by Chinese people he doesn't know. There are more coming. He has moved underneath his house to be alone, which is damp and not fully enclosed. Its his house!

    We are not really close enough to the situation to intervene but it sounds to me like he was manipulated and the situation is kind of abusive.

  4. Hayfa
    beyondblue Connect Mentor
    • beyondblue Connect is a FREE service that puts people living in Victoria's Greater Dandenong community, in touch with mentors. They can support your wellbeing and help you achieve your goals.
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    • Lebanon
    Hayfa avatar
    120 posts
    23 December 2017 in reply to bluskiy

    Hi Bluskiy,

    This situation is very common among multicultural backgrounds, it can be very daunting and difficult and sometimes it can be magnificent because having extended family can work well in building close social networks within the family and grandparents can be a tremendous help with the the children and grandchildren, cooking etc.

    I personally think that a nursing home may not be received well by your grandparents being that this idea is sometimes frowned upon by many families of ethnic background because there has always been the traditionalist and loyalist view that children need to keep parents in the home and look after them in return for their raising.
    When I was growing up my grandmother ( my father's mother) came to live with us, it was hard at first because at older age she had to adjust to a new life in a new country, she did well with our help and stayed on for 13 years, she helped raise me and my siblings.
    I think it is important to find ways to engage your grandparents so that they can be involved in new interests, for example, Chinese community groups in the area where you live, there are many different ones and they will make new friends.

    Is your father their only son? Is that why they wanted to be close to him? If so, it is understandable that they wanted to be here close to him and all of you. I think it is important for your parents to have an open discussion with your grandparents and ask them what do they want or need to make their life here as they wish for it to be and try moving forward with strategies that will benefit your grandparents and you and your parents.

    2 people found this helpful
  5. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
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    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    23 December 2017 in reply to bluskiy

    Thanks for sharing bluskiy. A challenging situation indeed which can impact negatively on all sides involved. There are intergenerational issues, Carers issues, cultural expectations, linguistic barriers etc to consider. Indeed a complex issue. A friend was going through a similar situation recently and has found support that was appropriate for both sides of the family through Family Mediation Services. They have Family Mediators who can have an independent discussion with both sides (using interpreters if needed), and can help you develop a plan of action that is suitable for all. Also, Seniors Rights Australia could provide information, support and advocacy and in the language of the client. Chinese Welfare May have Chinese social workers offering advice and a variety of services. You may find it beneficial looking into that and resourcing yourself in regards to available options. This way you’ll have choices to support your decision. Hope this could help you initiate a process for positive change that can be beneficial for all involved.

    Kindest Regards

    1 person found this helpful

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