By Rachel C. Eidelman, LCSW-C
Probably not anyone’s first choice for your child’s post-college life, but here you all are…again….parents, teen age son, and adult daughter all under one roof. While it’s not exactly what you had planned, it’s not the end of the world either. When your first born went to college, you thought you knew exactly how the story would unfold. She’d finish in 4 years, enroll in grad school or get a fantastic job offer and move into her own place without skipping a beat. You had big plans for her room – you’d already selected the paint color for your new office – but wait just a minute – things have changed.
Turns out she needed a “break” before deciding on grad school, and despite her stellar GPA, the job offers aren’t exactly rolling in. Not wanting to ‘settle’ for just any old job, she informs you that she’s moving home – reclaiming her room and her place in the daily life of your family.
According to a new report by the Pew Research Center, Americans ages 18-34 are more likely to live with their parents than in any other living situation.
Now this new development can be either good or not so good, depending on how you look at it. For the parents of a young adult who has returned to the family home, it can be a time of revisiting your past parental transgressions, or an opportunity to take the time to help your child master some adult responsibilities. And remember, you’re modeling the future for your younger child who hasn’t yet left (and returned) home.
No matter how you view it, the new arrangement can be complicated. Here are some tips for making it work:
Negotiate an end time for this “new” living arrangement.
The decision can always be re-negotiated but having a reasonable end in sight may help all parties. [Ex: successfully completing 6 months at the new job; completing 2 semesters of grad school] Hint: “Whenever I find a cheap apartment” may not an acceptable plan.
Respect the Adult’s Privacy
No matter the size of the family home, agree which space is off-limits to other family members. The younger brother may need to forfeit some space that he took over when she first left the family’s home.
Pay close attention to what she’s saying before you offer advice (a/k/a helpful guidance). Perhaps she is doing some problem-solving out loud, and really doesn’t want your opinion. Unsolicited advice can be misconstrued as criticism, and may result in shutting down all conversation. Of course, if asked, always be ready to offer your non-judgmental guidance.
Discuss expectations for participation in household chores
Whether its meal preparation, doing the laundry, or shoveling after the blizzard, she isn’t a guest at a B&B, and needs to take some responsibility for the household functioning. As an added bonus, help her to learn to manage her finances, including that pesky cell phone bill, so when the time comes for the successful launch, she’s acquired some important skills.
Remember, not every interaction has to be a Q & A session. Realize that your relationship is a different than it used to be and adjust your expectations accordingly. Instead of being annoyed, think of it as bonus time for your family. Enjoy this person who as reappeared at your kitchen table and have some fun!
By Rachel C. Eidelman, LCSW-C, Senior Manager, JCS Access Services
Because parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual, JCS offers a variety of programs, services, education and support for parents and families with children of all ages. Click here or call 410-466-9200 to learn more.