It seems that long gone are the days when kids left for their freshman year in college never to return to the parent’s home, except over breaks or to visit. Parents could look forward to changing that empty bedroom into the room of their dreams. However, now more adult children are forced to return home to sleep in their childhood beds and to abide by their parent’s “antiquated” rules.
Although adult children returning home or having to delay living on their own happens for a myriad of reasons – student loans, unemployment, illness, divorce, etc, it has the potential to put relationships to the test. To minimize conflict and save your sanity, have an open and honest conversation to discuss the following:
- What’s the duration? – A definitive time frame is an absolute necessity so everyone is in agreement as to how long the situation is expected to last. An exit strategy should be a part of the discussion from the beginning.
- What’s the contribution? – Are they expected to pay rent? Pay a bill or bills? Cook the meals? Do the housekeeping? Whatever you expect them to contribute needs to be communicated from the start.
- What are the rules? – Are overnight guests acceptable? Can dishes be left in the sink overnight? Does the house shut down at a particular time? Will parent/grandparent function as babysitter on a regular basis or only periodically? Whatever the boundaries are, they need to be clearly defined and agreed to in advance.
Clearly defined expectations and mutual respect are essential in situations where adult children are living with parents. Although the children are adults and should be treated as such, it’s important to remember that it is the parent’s home and their rules reign supreme. The revolving door spins solely out of their deep abiding love for their child coupled with the kindness of their heart. That notion should not be taken lightly and should be met with heartfelt appreciation. Thus, the presence of adult children and/or grandchildren should not create an unfair burden. There should not be a financial drain that falls at the feet of the parent. Parents may step in to be supportive but not to take on any more responsibilities than they can and are willing to handle. Understanding the perspective of both the parent and adult child can go a long way with ensuring mutual respect is always in play. It also makes it easier for the door to continue to remain open so it can revolve.