Economics are making it necessary for many adult children to return home to live. Add to that the fact that legal emancipation has been lowered to an age when many young adults are still living at home, dependent upon their parents, and roles and rules can get pretty confusing. More than one eighteen-year-old has said to his or her parents, “I’m an adult now and it is up to me how I live my life.” That’s true, but only to a point, when you’re still sleeping in your childhood bed.
In order to avoid confusion after they move back in, you may want to state the following before they unpack, or even at 12:01 AM on their 18th birthday, if you sense impending problems:
1. It is our house. We bought it, we paid for it, we keep it up and pay the bills. We are in charge. You are welcome here, as part of the family, not as a boarder who has no connection with us. We are still your parents. If it appears that you are not trying to make it on your own, we may set a time limit for your stay here.
2. We set the house rules. We won’t be unreasonable, but some things are non-negotiable.
Non-negotiables may include smoking, drinking or using drugs; making major changes in a room — such as wall paint; driving cars without permission; or expecting us to endorse a lifestyle that is contrary to our beliefs. Setting your own rules goes only so far, when you live in this house. We will not lend financial or moral support to a lifestyle that resembles a soap opera.
Negotiables are things like which of your friends we are willing to feed, and how often; who does what laundry; and the general running of the household. We have our way of doing things and we won’t be unreasonable, but we don’t plan to make major alterations in our routines without real need, or just because you are now a legal adult.
3. Be considerate . This is not a flop house and we may not have a maid, so leave kitchens and bathrooms clean; don’t take control of our electronics; refrain from disrepectful language, and don’t cause dissention among family members by a bad attitude. We expect to be told your schedule, and when you will or won’t be home, because we care for you and we don’t want to worry. In one way or another, relationships come with strings attached, so don’t confuse courtesy with control.
4. Contribute in some way. It’s only fair. We may not require rent from you (although we could) but we do expect you to contribute. Mow the lawn, do the laundry or vacuum. Get creative and find something that will help us all out. We’ll appreciate it and you will feel a little less like the dependent little kid who still lives at home. If you refuse to come up with things by your own initiative, we will give you some chores, just like we did years ago.
5. Leave when the arrangement doesn’t suit you. We love you and you are welcome to live here under our protection and provision, as long as you are responsible and cooperative. We are providing for you out of parental love, and your acceptance of our support obliges you to adhere to certain arrangements. Your age allows you to leave anytime you aren’t happy. If that happens, don’t stick around, making life miserable for everyone else, and don’t make it necessary to evict you.