12 things you need to talk about with your adult children living at home
Nothing can be more satisfactory for a parent than to see their child all grown up. Especially when they grow up to be good, respectful people.
And while you can get a bit nostalgic sometimes about those times when they were little, and depended so much on you, it is also a relief when they are finally more than capable of handling their own. Of course, a child always, always needs their mother. I lost mine almost 15 years ago, and I still miss her, and need her. A lot.
Maybe it’s because my mom was such an integral part of my life. I constantly find myself wishing she were here. To talk to her, to joke, and even argue with her (yes, we did that a lot!)
Unfortunately, most of those fights came about for 2 big reasons: One, we were truly more like sisters. That was just the nature of our relationship. Second, and probably because if reason #1, there were no clear set of rules or boundaries set out for me.
The Importance of rules
When your child lives with you as an adult, those rules, and expectations must all be addressed. Unless you want chaos to move in and stay.
That’s why when my own children were about to graduate from high school, we had some very important conversations. My husband and I are (thankfully!) on the same page about parenting. What we needed was to be on the same page with our adult children.
Why is this important? Well. because no set or group of adults can live together without order. I mean, they could. But it would all be chaotic, and messy. And to be honest, this is our house. Yes, it is their house as well, but we as the parents are in charge. Just like they’ll be in charge once they move out for good.
There are many things that must be addressed to make this new arrangement work. But for us, we covered the most important parts, and have left the conversation open for new and or unexpected situations.
Here are the 12 things you need to talk about with your adult children living at home
Whether you have a set time for dinner every night or not, it is extremely important to discuss this. Here we decided that our adult children do not always have to be present for dinner. However, we require that they let us know ahead of time if they are not coming, or coming late. It isn’t just polite and respectful to do so. It’s also a matter of meal planning. You wouldn’t want to wait unnecessarily for them if they are having dinner elsewhere. Likewise, they wouldn’t like it a whole lot if all the food is gone when they get home. And the best way to prevent this is to communicate their plans to you.
This might be one that not many may agree on. However, we feel like it’s a matter of respect that they don’t get home at whatever time they please. Communication is key, so we have established the rule that on weekdays (Sunday thru Thursday) they must be home no later than 11:30. Yes, they are adults. But this is our family home. And we certainly don’t want them coming and going at all hours.
They are, of course, free to spend the night at a friend’s house if they want. We only ask that we are informed, and not in last minute, in this case, when it’s near their curfew.
We have a hard and fast rule in our home: we all live here, therefore we all do chores. It should not, and does not fall on me as the mom, or my husband as the dad to do it all. Since age, gender or role is not important, then for all adults living in a home there must be some sort of contribution to the general management of the home.
Be clear on what is expected of your adult child living at home. They might be adults now, but just like when they were underage, there are things that they can, and should contribute to make living in the home manageable. In our home, our kids are in charge of cleaning the kitchen. This includes doing dishes, cleaning the fridge, and more. They also take the garbage and recycling outside, and to the curb. The 2 adult children are also in charge of cleaning the cat litter box, and one cleans the toilet, while the other cleans the shower.
We feel like this is entirely optional, and should be treated on a case by case basis. For us, since our adult children are both attending college, then we do not require any rent contribution. We see their college work as their contribution. However, if they were to quit college, or finish their education but still live at home, they’d be charged a fair amount for rent, or asked to contribute financially in any other way. We haven’t reached that situation yet, but they are aware of this condition.
Talking about money can be a tricky subject for some families, but it cannot be avoided. It is of extreme importance that your adult child knows and understands that, as an adult, they must be in charge of some of their expenses. For example, will you pay for their auto insurance? Their gas? Give them money for going to the movies?
This might be one of the hardest things for some adult children to deal with. Unless they already have some income from a part time job, or gig, they might suddenly find themselves totally broke. However, part of being an adult is learning to cover your personal expenses, and it’d be a disservice to them to treat them as young children.
Drugs and alcohol
The stance on the use of drugs and alcohol may vary by household, and of course, the age of your adult child matters as well. Don’t be afraid to set limits on this though. If you, like us, are an alcohol/drugs free household, then this also applies to your adult child.
They are, of course, free to consume whatever they want outside of the home, since you can’t be with them 24/7. However, make it clear if you are OK with them coming home under the influence or not. By talking about it beforehand there will be no misunderstandings.
We are not big on parties, or get togethers here, so it was not an issue for us. However, bringing up the subject of hosting parties is key. When you discuss this, decide if they are allowed to have parties at your home, if drugs and/or alcohol are allowed, which days it’s OK with you, size of the party, and general conduct expected of them and their guests.
You should also talk about whether or not parties can be held when you are not home, music volume, and who will supply the food, snacks and drink for the guests. Trust me, you do not want to discover all your chips are gone, because your child fed them all to a bunch of crazy young adults like themselves.
I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t want to drag myself out of bed and come face to face with a stranger. Well, by stranger, I mean someone who does not live in my house.
The point is, whether you are OK with your adult children having overnight guests or not, you must set the rules, and guidelines in place as soon as possible. Discuss and decide things like, when is it OK to have overnight guests?; How many people can spend the night at once? What are the rules for guests in terms of arriving/leaving your home?; Will they be present during meal times? How much notice, if any, do they need to give you about people spending the night? And the tricky one, is their boyfriend/girlfriend allowed to spend the night?
Having these questions asked and answered will give both you and your adult child clear guidelines on what’s allowed and what’s not. That way, you will not be unexpectedly facing a non-household member on your way to the toilet, while you are only wearing your undies, and a tank 😉
Use of resources
The proper use of resources is a matter of consideration. Things like electricity, water, food, etc. must be used respectfully at all times. Just because they reach adulthood doesn’t mean that they get to use all the hot water, or leave lights on willy nilly.
Likewise, just eating whatever they want without any thoughtful consideration of others is a big no. Unless they are in charge of doing and paying for the groceries, or pay certain bills, they must always think of the benefit of all. And if they are not willing to be respectful of the family’s resources, then it might be time to revisit the rent/contribution conversation, and make them responsible for some expenses.
Doing laundry is probably one of the easiest chores. While the choice is entirely yours, there is really no need for you to do your adult’s child laundry. Personally, I love doing laundry. However, I don’t particularly enjoy working harder than I absolutely have to. That’s why when my older kids finished high school, I passed that task to them. I still do mine, my husband’s and younger daughter’s laundry, but the loads are significantly less, and smaller.
So, if you have a child who is old enough to do his or her own laundry, you could teach them how, and let them do it. Just make sure that you cover this, as I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be blamed if they run out of clean undies.
While the the outcome of their efforts (or lack thereof) on their studies, and/or workplace sits entirely on their shoulders, it is perfectly OK to set a specific and doable set of expectations. Talk to your adult child about things like how you expect them to do at school/college. Even if you are not helping them financially with their schooling, asking that they do their best, and to treat the opportunity to get an education with respect is more than reasonable.
After all, if they fail their classes, and end up getting kicked out of school, it will impact your household, not just them.
As the head of the household, and the adults responsible for the home and family, there is a certain level of implied authority. As your child reaches adulthood, it is important that they understand that you are still their parent, and head of household, and therefore in charge of making rules that must be followed.
While showing them respect as well, make sure that your adult child understands that even when they don’t like certain rules, these are put in place for the benefit of the whole family. And that you expect them to respect that.
12 things you need to talk about with your adult children living at home
It might seem easier to just let some things slide. Or when at a loss, completely ignore them until they become a much larger issue. However, having these serious conversations, and establishing at least the most basic rules can, and will make the transition to adulthood smoother, for both parents and children. Setting out expectations, and keeping open communication channels is not only healthy, but necessary. Trust me. It is a lot easier to go into any kind of living arrangement with your eyes open wide.
You certainly don’t want to make your relationship with your adult into a rocky one, just because you didn’t address the most important issues.
Do you have adult children living at home? How do you navigate this new phase? Did I miss any important points? Please, share with us in the comments. Inquiring minds want to know!