7 Tips for Living with Adult Children

When we bought this house just about 12 years ago, at the time we needed alot of space.  Our 2 daughters were 15 and 16, and our son was 3.  There was always a bustle in the house, someone going here, someone going there, teens in and out, eating out of the fridge, cupboards went from bare to replenished to bare again in 2 days time.  It made life interesting (errr, a-hemm).

And when the girls were in their teens, they couldn’t WAIT to get out of this house.  It was like we were keeping them here in chains.  So they both left the house in their teens, and while we were a bit upset at them leaving in a rush, there was not much to do except let them go.  And we did.

So fast forward a couple years later in the cold world, and both girls have been back at one point or another.  Right now one is living with us, with our grandson who is 2.   Our bedrooms never seem to get empty enough where I do something new with the space.  I guess that’s a good thing… At one point I was setting up my upstairs dojo in a spare room,  when the revolving door opened again.  As soon as space opens up, the universal vacuum kicks in and wella, the space is filled yet again.

We’re ok with helping them get back on their feet.  We don’t want them to leave in a big rush again and find themselves in a hole, but then again we don’t want them to take “too” long either… So, I thought I ‘d share my tips for living with adult children since the perils are equally as challenging as teenagers:

1.  Do try to set boundaries.  They don’t always work but especially when there are younger ones involved, try to establish some ground rules.  This could involve willingness to babysit (when grandkids are involved), laundry days, etc.  Nothing is worse than competing for laundry machines in your own house!

2. Work together to set a goal for moving.  Help them organize their finances and plans so that they have the best chance of hitting their goals.  The reality is, they don’t really want to stay there any longer than necessary, but it also helps to avoid complacency if they do get a little “too” comfortable.

3.  Require some semblance of room tidiness.  Surprising fact: an adult child can quickly regress into keeping their room like they did when they were a teenager.  This alone can drive anyone mad crazy.  At one point, we spoke with our daughter when she was on the bad end of this spectrum and she promptly said ” Well David’s room is just as bad as mine.”  Whoa there, he’s 14, you’re 25 and already been out of the house and now back.  Your time has come and gone!  No dice…

4.  Learn to let go of small stuff.  Just like any child would, there is a clutter of mess that gets left behind.  As much as you want to think that they will pick up after themselves, you discover that not to be the case.  Sure you can gripe about it, but all it gets is frustration.  So, learn to focus on the big stuff and ignore the small stuff.

5.  Get rent if you can.  Sometimes this is a touchy subject.  My husband and I diverge on this point.  My approach is to charge a nominal fee for rent, and then put that money away to support their future move.  Let’s face it, saving money can be hard so this is a way to help that process in the name of “rent.”  It also lets them feel they are contributing to the household.  But if your other half isn’t on board, it’s unlikely to get roots.

6.   Plan for surprises.  Surprises come in all forms.  Just recently a surprise for us was when  a small party turned into a big party of 32 people!  Other surprises include last minute requests for help … financial or otherwise, significant others coming to stay, and so on.

7. Keep communication doors open.  Things can go sour with unspoken, resentful thoughts lingering around.  Reactions will be similar to how this same child would react if they were a teenager.  So be prepared for some drama, even though you’d think they would have grown out of it by now.  Take some of the responsibility in that we own some of the energetic communication that is in the “air” and just not being spoken aloud.

Ok, so the reality is, alot of this stuff won’t happen the way you want it to.  We’ve been successful with items 1, 4 and 6 and 7.  We tried for #2 and #3, but initial plans went south and tidiness is still an issue.  But then I go to #4 of not sweating the small stuff, that’s what really does help keep things flowing smoothly.  The rest have hit the wall at one point or another, or just never got off the ground. It’s ok, we’re all still learning.  Relationships require lots of patience, understanding and compromise.

If you experienced this, what has worked for you?

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