They’re often known as “boomerang kids.” Your adult child is returning to live with you. How will that work out?
The most lasting connections any of us have are between parents and children. When your grown children return to live with you for economic or other reasons, issues ranging from money matters to personal boundaries can get complicated. But they don’t have to be. These 10 suggestions will not only help you make sharing a home with your grown children harmonious, but also go a long way in strengthening those irreplaceable bonds.
Adjust Your Expectations
Realism is key. Everyone has memories of the years you lived together the first time, some wonderful, some not so great. Those recollections can flavor how you think about the new arrangement. What you remember from the past and hope to attain become expectations for the “new regime.” Don’t expect more than you received years ago, and you just may be pleasantly surprised.
Consider the Other Person’s Perspective
Think about how your adult child may be feeling about the change and what brought it about. You didn’t fail as a parent because your adult child is returning home; nor did he or she fail as a person. Times are tough and circumstances change in everyone’s life. Be aware of what your new housemate may be sensitive to–or feeling badly about–in relation to the issues that resulted in your living as a unit now. Could be the inability to find a job, a job loss, financial downturn, divorce…whatever it is, bringing the subject up over and over serves no purpose.
Change Your Thinking About Living Together
If it’s time for your adult child to move in, it’s time to move on. Let go of old hurts and grudges, so you can begin life afresh. Focus on the positives about the people you live with rather than what you see as negative. If your daughter is prone to leaving dirty dishes around the house or your son allows laundry to pile up until he has nothing to wear, gently remind your child that this is your home and you like it tidy. If that fails, remind yourself that your relationship is more important than used glasses or dirty clothing. Mother-child connections can easily be damaged by harping and criticism. Instead, think about how much fun it is to converse with your offspring as an adult or simply to have his or her company.
Remember, No One Is a Mind Reader
Especially the children you raised. They are used to your doing most everything for them, so it’s very easy for them to slip back into childlike patterns and for parents slip back into their fulltime nurturing role. Now is the time to create a more equitable arrangement. If you want help, you will have to ask for it. And be very specific. Say, “I need you to pick up your father at 5:30.” “Please stop at the grocery store on your way home.” “Cleaning your room is your responsibility.”
Sort Out Money Matters Early
Living with you solves many of your child’s financial problems. But it’s best to straighten out the details in the beginning and adjust them along the way so everyone feels the arrangement is fair. It may be that money isn’t paid in by your child; as long as you all agree, it shouldn’t be a problem. Misunderstandings begin and the warm feelings you have for each other get tarnished when one person feels cheated or used.
When the contribution can’t be actual dollars and cents, providing services is a valid way for grown children to contribute, and it helps you feel more positive about them. Don’t allow money to define or dominate the relationship. Separate money problems from other problems you may have with your son or daughter.
Set Up Ground Rules
Decide who does the chores—the cooking, shopping, yard work, laundry, cleaning—the tasks from which everyone benefits and in which everyone should participate. If your adult child has children and you are asked to babysit or handle childcare duties, outline what you can and cannot do and be sure these are all things you are comfortable doing. Let your child know when you are tired, if something seems too much, or when you have plans. A fair division of labor will make those in the household much happier. Call a family meeting if changes you want involve everyone.
Guard Your Boundaries
The natural boundaries separating you from grownup children occur automatically when you live independently; they form either by the physical distance or the amount of contact you orchestrate. Living together, those lines can blur. To protect your physical and emotional boundaries, spell out your schedule as an explanation of why you can’t be somewhere or do something. Limit the amount of information you share about your personal life, if you want to avoid discussion and interference. In whatever ways you draw your lines, explain how much you love your child regardless of how much time or closeness you share.
Keep Your Own Life
Because you live together doesn’t mean you must spend every waking moment with each other. It’s important to see friends and remain involved in whatever you did before you “joined forces” in the same house. This prevents hurt feelings if, for example, you give up a date with friends to be home with your adult child, and she announces a change of plans.
If your child is new to the area, suggest he seek out groups and organizations that interest him so he gets out on his own and is not dependent on you to fill his time. New contacts and friendships can turn into good job leads.
Establish an Exit Strategy
Talk to your children about future plans and the duration of their stay. Select a hoped-for departure date that is realistic and based on their employment status and goals—finding a job, wanting to put money away to rent an apartment or to buy a home, for instance. You can agree to take some money from a child with a job to help with household expenses or open an “exit” savings account. Be aware that this is a proposed leaving date, not an ironclad one. Decide you will revisit the plan in six months, and alter it accordingly at that time.
Embrace What Is
The adult child who left home four or more years ago is not the same person you knew then—your son or daughter may have different views, habits, friends, and ideas about how to live life. You may not like all the changes that have taken place, but be patient. Understand that there will be an adjustment period. It will work out if everyone agrees that living together is the best or most sensible arrangement for now.
Living together is an opportunity to know your offspring as an adult, to enjoy him or her, and share good times together. Your days of parenting are essentially over: no more order-giving and mommy-child disagreements. Before long, you will likely come to accept living under one roof again as the new reality and understand the incomparable benefits of pulling together as a family.
(obtain from beliefnet.com)