Guest Author - Cathy Brownfield
Has it happened to you? An adult child is in a financial bind, or any of many reasons for which they need a place to land. (They are called ‘boomerang children’.) You’re the parent(s). Are you obligated to give your adult child a helping hand? Ann Landers always said people only get walked on when they allow themselves to be walked on. My late mother-in-law, God bless her, always said, “When children are small they walk on your feet. When they are grown, they walk on your heart.” And have you seen those T-shirts that say, “I childproofed my house, but the kids keep getting back in”? Does that describe your house? Are you at the end of your rope? You aren’t alone.
People used to say, maybe they still do. “No house can be run by two hens.” My mother once said to me, “I wish my house was big enough that you and your family could just move in and live here.” We were staying temporarily, about six weeks. I wanted my own house where I could set my rules and do things my way. So it’s a little difficult to comprehend young adults who want to live in Mom and Dad’s house, when it is actually just an address for mail and legal purposes, to just occasionally sleep there and expect Mom to clean up after them, do their laundry and provide the necessities, as well as babysitting and pet care.
Initially, parents may enjoy having their adult children living under the same roof. Trouble enters paradise when arguments arise over things like chores and money. To keep the peace for everyone, a few rules to live by are necessary. Nobody wants a full, codified tome, but a few simple rules that give respect and courtesy to everyone in the household is desirable. Everyone makes their own decisions and deals with the consequences of their actions. Courtesy and respect for each other tops the list. Just as your children are independent, so are you, the parent(s). You don’t have to be “on duty” 24/7 any more. Your adult children are responsible for themselves, their children and their pets. You are not a convenient, built-in babysitter/pet sitter/caregiver.
Rent. Some parents feel uncomfortable charging their children rent. And some children are resentful of that very suggestion. You have the option. What does it cover? Shelter only? Groceries? What are the terms of rent? Pets allowed? When is rent due? Must they pay a deposit? What are the terms for getting it back when they move out?
Include household rules that apply to everyone. No visitors after midnight. No entertaining guests in bedrooms. Clean up the bathroom after use. Each person takes care of their own space, their own laundry, and cleaning up after themselves. Adult children living at home should be either attending school full time (rent free), working full time or serving the military. The objective is to assist them toward financial independence, not to enable them to be bums as they sit in front of the TV all day and make no effort to help themselves. You also have the option of eviction if your adult child is not respecting your belongings or your property.
You can’t run your adult children’s lives. Whatever the rules you decide on, you have to live with those same rules. It helps, advise some sources, to sit down and discuss the expectations of an adult child living in your home.
Says one mom, “I don’t have a problem with my adult child living in my house. I just expect that adult to be responsible for self and belongings, pets, laundry and courtesy. I really get angry when messes are left for me to take care of. It seems like a gross lack of respect for me.”