Boomerang kids: When adult children live with you
April thought she might be experiencing some false guilt. She, a member of the Sandwich Generation, had taken care of her family, raising the children with her best parenting skills. She had contributed to the care and welfare of her aging parents who now were gone.
As she and Ralph were reaching their “retirement” years, the later years of their lives, she wanted to be independent for as long as they could be, free of responsibility for their children their now adult children. She had been hoping that she could actually organize their home and make it the cozy place for the two of them that couldn’t be done when they were raising children. But things never quite worked out the way she planned.
She was well aware that she had learned much of her parenting skills from her parents. She also recalled how she didn’t want to live with her parents forever. When she had that high school diploma in hand she was ready to get a good job, buy a decent car, have her own place and she had wanted to travel. She wanted to be independent, self-sufficient, to put into practice the lessons of her learning. However, she married instead, and the natural progression of that was to have babies and raise a family.
Their youngest child had come back home because income just wasn’t substantial enough for self-support. It wasn’t from lack of motivation. Her adult child was trying. April was trying to be patient but sometimes that was hard when she looked around the house at the messes left by this adult she and Ralph had raised. And she wasn’t sure why their adult child didn’t want to live independently.
Resentment rose, “I shouldn’t have to clean up after another adult. And I won’t.” But nothing was improving. She supposed she wasn’t being forceful enough. She didn’t want to be a tyrant. But some ground rules were essential, recommended by the experts in the field of adult children moving back home with Mom and Dad.
First she talked to her husband. She explained to Ralph that they were “enabling” their adult child to stay in this unacceptable holding pattern. An adult should be self-sufficient and able to take care of themselves. Their first obligation, hers and Ralph’s was to take care of themselves, to make sure they would be provided for in their advancing age after retirement. They should have friends of their own.
Why did she feel guilty about enforcing the rules in her own home? Was it more false guilt? False guilt, a friend said, will go away. She needed to stand her ground; she and Ralph needed to stand their ground together. Unconditional love was a given.
There are five things parents should not do for their adult children: 1.) Don’t deal with their consequences for their actions. Everyone has consequences; 2.) Nobody lives for free. They should have to contribute to the household either in paying rent and their own expenses or bartering their time for the privilege of staying in your home and having your assistance if that is the way you want to arrange things. You need to be thinking about your older years and needs; 3.) Don’t give advice unless they ask for it; 4.) Let them take care of their social lives. You need to have your own. They can take care of theirs because they are wait for it adults; 5.) If you are doing their laundry, stop. Why are you doing their laundry? Refer back to number 4.
Everyone makes decisions. Everyone’s decisions and actions bring about consequences. And everyone learns from this process, including your adult children. False guilt will go away.
Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related mental health issues. For more information about programming, contact FRC at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.