David Horgan: Mother-in-law moved in, and sanity moved out

David Horgan is a successful producer of TV commercials who has three children, a wife and a big house in Ludlow, Mass., a suburb of Springfield.

His mother-in-law, Corrine Davis, 69, moved in three years ago, and he says it's caused some stress in the home.

There are arguments. About big things. About little things. About things that are so silly, he's reluctant to admit them.

"You start feeling like you're a guest in your own home," Horgan says. "On Saturdays, everyone comes to visit her, and I'm outnumbered. It's like a visiting center, and you want your privacy."

He and his wife, Julie, have two teenage children and an 8-year-old. It's hard enough to have teenagers in the house, but when your mother-in-law is there giving you advice, too, well …

"We'll be right in the middle of something, maybe talking to kids about not sneaking out at night, and the last thing you want is another person throwing ideas in," he says.

Horgan understands there's "nothing malicious" in what his mother-in-law does or says.

"She's a delightful person," he says.

"She'd do anything for you. But, boy, you can't help thinking it's a burden."

When he was growing up, his grandparents' house was a constant haven for whoever in the family needed to live there. He's part Lebanese, and his wife is from an Irish family. Both come from traditions of multigenerational homes.

"There were so many people living in my grandparents' house, I couldn't even tell you all of them. 'Oh, that's Uncle Joe and Cousin Such-and-Such,' my grandmother would say. That was the way."

But he thinks today's families should consider carefully before they bring an aging parent into their homes.

"Just stop and think for 24 hours. Don't automatically say, 'Anything for my family.' "

It's all been a strain, he says, not only for him and his wife, but also for his children.

"There are too many bodies on top of each other."