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Top 7 Ways to Have a Healthy Relationship with Your Adult Children Living at Home
By Christina Newberry
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Whether they’ve never left the nest or, like so many in the “boomerang generation, they’re returning home after some time away, you’re likely struggling to find ways to make the relationship with your adult children living at home work. The good news is, adult children can live successfully at home – but only if you avoid some critical mistakes right from the start (or correct them right away!).
- Avoid encouraging rebellion by taking up parenting right where you left off.
It may be hard to remember sometimes, but adult children living at home are still adults. A sure way to set yourself up for conflict is to over-parent your adult children.
Adult children living at home who are over-parented and over-supervised will rebel as quickly as teenagers, so you need to develop some strategies to establish a new adult-to-adult relationship – quick!
- Stop stealing your child’s independence by giving them a “free ride”.
It can be very tempting to try to help your adult children living at home by covering all of their living expenses – especially if they’ve returned home after a personal crisis like losing a job or the end of a relationship.
But why should they ever learn to take care of themselves when you’re all too eager to do it for them? Even a short-term stay should require your adult children living at home to contribute to household expenses and chores. The best way to set these expectations clearly is by working out a household budget, so everyone is on the same page in terms of the extra costs your adult child is causing at home.
- Remember that even though you’re all grown-ups, there’s nothing wrong with rules.
If you think you don’t need ground rules for your adult children living at home, consider how you’d feel about them smoking, drinking, or using drugs in your home – or even bringing a lover to stay overnight.
As strange as it may sound, experts agree that the best way to discuss – and stick to – these household rules is to draft up a customized contract between you and your adult children living at home.
- Never compromise your own financial situation to support your adult children living at home.
With adult children living at home, you’ll be using more heat, hot water, and electricity. You’ll need to buy more groceries. In fact, all your household expenses will increase.
But no matter what you do, do not put your own financial future on the line to support your adult children living at home. You do neither yourself nor your children any good by creating extra debt or obligations for yourself.
If you don’t know where the money to make the situation work will come from, you need to think long and hard about whether you can help your adult children by having them live at your home.
- Help your adult children know when the time is right to leave.
The best way to ensure your adult children living at home leave within a reasonable timeframe is to establish a clear timeline for their stay and milestones to help them reach independence.
Most adult children living at home don’t plan to stay forever. But if they don’t have any clear idea of when they need to leave – or how they’ll work towards being able to do so, they may end up stuck.
By establishing a timeline with clear milestones, you can empower your adult children living at home to leave the nest. If you don’t create a timeline, they may end up calling your house “home” for much longer than you – or even they – had planned.
- Remember that anger and resentment are relationship killers.
When two generations of adults live in one household, it’s extremely easy for anger and resentment to build up on both sides. And once those bitter emotions have crept into a relationship, they are extremely difficult to overcome.
That’s why it’s critical that you and your adult children living at home work together to develop communication techniques and strategies that will deal with negative feelings before they take over – and potentially damage your relationship with your adult children forever.
- Never (ever) undermine your adult child’s ability to be a good parent.
When your adult child moves back home with an entire family in tow, your life changes drastically – and your lifestyle can take a sharp downward turn.
In addition to the other challenges associated with adult children living at home, you may have to deal with the expectation that you’ll be a full-time babysitter – for free. That may be okay if you’re retired and your adult children living at home are working full time. But what if they take advantage of the free sitting services to start staying out late, partying, or generally shirking their parental responsibilities?
The most important thing for your grandchildren is that your own children continue to be good parents. You can help your adult children living at home to be good parents without damaging their credibility or undermining their authority, but you have to walk a fine line to make it work.
When adult children come home with families of their own, the ground rules and expectations must be crystal clear. And your adult children living at home must understand that no matter what they may be going through in their own lives, it is their responsibility to parent their children – not yours.
Christina Newberry is co-author of The Hands-On Guide to Surviving Adult Children Living at Home. For detailed information on how to avoid the common mistakes mentioned in this article, along with a customizable Under one Roof contract and household budget calculator, visit her website at http://www.AdultChildrenLivingAtHome.com
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Article Submitted On: May 25, 2008