Daisy Goodwin, a writer for the UK paper the Daily Mail, recently wrote about her experience living with her adult daughter, Ottilie, who has recently moved home. And I have to say, Daisy is doing it all wrong. Her 22-year-old daughter is walking all over her and making her miserable in her own home. Here’s what she should be doing differently:
- “Even before Ottilie moved in, an email arrived laying down her rules: ‘I am not a dogwalker,’ she stressed, putting paid to my hopes of an extra pair of hands to help with my daily chores.”
I’m sorry, but Ottilie does not get to lay down these kinds of rules. She is an able-bodied adult living in her parents’ home completely rent-free. She absolutely should be a dogwalker – she just needs her mother to work up the nerve to tell her so. And she should be helping with the other chores, too.
- “And the day after: ‘I think I will need a bigger bed, the one I have at the moment is for a child.’”
I know it is hard on an adult child’s self-esteem to sleep in a single bed. This is exactly what I did when I moved back in with my parents when I was going through a divorce. It was a difficult symbol to deal with, as it so clearly meant I was not operating in grown-up territory. But it would have been outrageous for me to ask may parents to buy new furniture to accommodate me, and it is outrageous that Daisy did exactly that for her daughter. An adult is absolutely capable of sleeping in a single bed!
“Then there is the matter of the family car. Every time we go out as a four, there is a moment when, instead of us both automatically climbing into our allotted seats — me in the front and her in the back — we pause. ‘Do you mind?’ I ask. She never objects, but I can see it is only a matter of time before she is asking me whether I mind going in the back with the dog.”
She may ask, but I sincerely hope Daisy never says yes, unless Ottilie is offering to help share the driving on a long trip.
- “God, the mess. I am not a fanatically tidy person by any means, but my daughter is the sort of person who leaves a trail everywhere she goes. You can tell a child to tidy up their stuff but when that child is an adult it is rather different.”
It is absolutely no different when that adult is living in your home. If your adult child wants to keep her own room as a pigsty, bite your lip and just make sure she closes the door. But the rest of the house needs to be comfortable for everyone. This is why I make the distinction between house rules – which parents can and should enforce with their adult children – and life rules, which are a no-no. The short version is that rules for how adult children behave in the parents’ home are completely fair game. When they’re away from home, even if they live with you, they are adults and should be left to their own devices. With the following exception…
- “Adults should be allowed to come and go as they please but, when you are lying awake at 3am straining to hear a key turn in the lock, it’s hard to remember that.”
There is no reason an adult child can’t let you know when to expect them home. I’m not a fan of curfews, but I am a BIG fan of respecting the people you live with, and not causing them to worry about you
“Unlike, say, a paying lodger — and no, we are not charging Ottilie rent — no room in the house is sacrosanct, and despite having a perfectly nice room of her own (with a new bigger bed, as requested), she likes nothing better than to spread out on my bed, leaving a spoor of paperbacks and soya-milk cappuccinos in her wake.”
I just cannot understand why Daisy allows this. One of the most important factors when adults live together is that everyone has their own space. Those boundaries need to be established and respected. I cannot imagine ever having behaved in this way, even as a petulant teenager. To do so as an adult is inexcusable, and Daisy needs to tell Ottilie that.
This post has gone on long enough, so I’ll end it there. But parents, please, remember that your home is your home. When your adult children move back in, you need to establish boundaries and outline your expectations so that everyone can live happily together.
From “The Kids Move Back In: Secrets to Saving Your Sanity (Hint: Cash)” by Vanessa McGrady:
“The short answer is that there is no one approach that works for every family. That said, I do think it’s important for all adult children to make a regular financial contribution to the household , for a couple of reasons,” said Christina Newberry, an expert on adult children living at home. “First, it acknowledges that the parent is taking on extra costs to have them there. Second, it keeps the adult child in the mindset of having a monthly financial responsibility, which is how things will be once the adult child is out on their own. And third, it’s actually good for the adult child’s self-esteem when they feel like a contributing member of the household.”
Read the rest at Forbes.com
New research shows that in the United States, it’s not just adult children moving back into their parents’ homes. In fact, families are “doubling up” in all kinds of ways — to the tune of 663,000 in-laws and other relatives moving in with family in 2013 alone.
At the same time, more “working-age, unmarried or un-partnered adults” are moving in together as roommates in order to afford their housing costs.
All told, 32% of working age adults are now living in doubled-up homes of one variety or another.
It’s time to work on those communication skills to ensure that all adults sharing a household have the most positive experience possible.
Canadian families: A TV production company in Vancouver, BC is looking to hear from you. If you’re interested in being on TV, or just sharing your situation, you can get in contact with them at the email address below. Here’s the scoop:
A Vancouver, Canada production company wants to hear from Canadian parents of 20-something adults who have moved back home and are causing stress. They might be failing to pay rent or other expenses or do their share of the housework, not looking for work, making their parents uncomfortable by bringing home friends or partners, relying on their parents for free childcare, stealing, or dealing with substance abuse issues. All stories and names will be kept completely confidential. If interested, please send an email with a paragraph or two describing your situation to email@example.com. There is a potential for some assistance, financial or otherwise, to be offered at some point down the road in exchange for willingness to participate in this documentary-style TV series, but a response to this callout in no way obligates the respondent to participate.
Canadian parents are finding a way to get the adult children out of their homes — they’re willing to help adult kids with a down payment for their first homes. According to a new report from the Bank of Montreal: “On average, one third of first timers (30 per cent) expects parents or family to assist in their purchase. However, this percentage rises to 40 per cent in Montreal and Vancouver.”
Sal Guatieri, Senior Economist for BMO Capital Markets said, “High prices in a few major cities, and the fact that prices are outrunning incomes in Toronto, are turning off some first-time buyers, while forcing others to go deeper into debt, tap their parents for hefty down payments, and opt for a condo rather than a detached house.”
For context, the average first home in Canada costs $316,100. That means even a 5% down payment is almost $16,000 – a tough amount for a young person to save. So, would you help your adult kids with a down payment?
Would you help your kids with a down payment on a home?
It was an honour this morning to visit the studios of CKNW 980 for a one-on-one interview with one of BC’s most respected broadcasters, Bill Good. We had a great talk about how families should prepare when adult children move back home, and we took a few calls from families dealing with this situation — including one father who said his wife has delayed retirement so they can keep paying their adult children’s rent. Yikes! If you missed the interview, click below to listen online to my interview with Bill Good on adult children living at home.
This weekend, Globe and Mail columnist Elizabeth Renzetti wrote a piece about how both parents and adult children can benefit when adult kids live at home. She said:
“It’s seen as a terrible failure that 36 per cent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 31 still live at home, the highest figure in 40 years. But when Pew Research asked them how they felt about living in the basement, 78 per cent said they were happy chez mom and dad. Interestingly, their parents were happy too: The ones who had adult kids at home were just as satisfied as those who didn’t… And look what parents get in return: companionship, affection and an antidote to loneliness, which is the true killer these days.”
It’s true that when families plan ahead, have open communication, and all get on the same page about the expectations for the adult child’s stay at home, there can be benefits for both generations. The benefits for the adult children are obvious: parents provide ongoing support, both financial and emotional.
And parents do get the companionship and affection Renzetti refers to. Even more important, they get a chance to really get to know their children as adults. The fact is that in most modern Western societies, we don’t make a lot of time for our parents once we are no longer under their roofs. Spending some time living together as adults changes the nature of the relationship between parents and their adult children, often with lasting results. Both generations get a chance to see each other as adults with real goals, dreams, and insights. Having the time to make those discoveries can be precious.
Of course, it’s not always so wonderful. If parents and kids have different expectations about anything from who does the laundry to how much the adult child should contribute financially, there’s the potential for lasting effects on the relationship that lean toward disastrous rather than delightful. Real, open, honest communication is the most important factor in just about any relationship, and that’s especially true for parents and adult children who live together.
I was quoted Friday in an article about adult children living at home for Yahoo.ca:
“The relationship between parents and their children has really changed over the last generation. Where parents are now seen much less as disciplinarian figures,” says Christina Newberry, author of The Hands-On Guide to Surviving Adult Children Living at Home. “Parents are seen more as peers so the idea of going back and living with your parents is not so bad.”
Read the rest at Yahoo.ca.
So much of the stress in our lives is caused by relationship challenges that we either have not acknowledged to ourselves, or that we have not acknowledged to others. This is true for all relationships, whether it’s with a spouse, a friend, an aging parent, or an adult child. We fall into the trap of expecting others to read our minds, or believing that everyone has the same expectations we do. This leads to huge amounts of underlying frustration, resentment, and stress that seep into all areas of our lives.
The worst part is that when we’re frustrated, angry, and resentful, we assume the worst of the people in our lives, rather than the best. That means when a challenge arises that we actually recognize as stressful, we are disinclined to give people the benefit of the doubt. We start to believe they are stressing us out on purpose, which escalates our frustration and resentment even further, so it’s a tough cycle to get out of!
The most important way to eliminate the hidden stress in any relationship is open communication. We really do need to tell people how we feel, and address minor snags in relationships before they blow up into huge problems that become so common we don’t even recognize they’re there – even though they cause us stress daily. The challenge is that we don’t necessarily know how to have those tough conversations. That’s why one of the most rewarding messages I get from families who have used my book as a guide is that it helped them get those tough conversations started – and make them productive. I’ve had stressed-out parents (and step-parents) tell me the book has saved their marriages, since they’re finally able to really talk about how they’re feeling, and start building an atmosphere of open communication.
May this new year bring you a new lease on all the difficult relationships in your life. Remember: Honesty may be difficult, but if you are clear, level-headed, fair, and reasonable, your openness will clear the path for much less stressful relationships all year long.
All the best to you and your family in 2014!
Here’s a video from The Wall Street Journal that summarizes an article the WSJ ran about parental involvement in their millennial children’s careers. I have to say, it makes me cringe. I just can’t imagine how being involved in your child’s job interviews, performance reviews, or salary negotiations can possibly cast a positive light on your child’s ability to perform a job independently.
I often say that although the current economic situation is one main reason why adult children move back home, the changed relationship between the generations is another important factor. Young adults today simply view their parents as more rightly involved in their lives than young adults did a generation or two ago. At age twenty, those born two generations ago were having forming new nuclear families with their children, not holding on to their parents. Their offices might have had “bring your child to work day” but never “bring your parents to work day.” It’s a huge cultural shift, and it will be interesting to see how it progresses. Will the millennials continue this trend or swing back the other way when they have their own children?
Here’s the video: