Wasn't there a sci-fi flick called "Clash Of The Generations?" OK, maybe not. But clearly there could be one. When adult children move back into the family home, they often return as adults -- which is a cause for some adjustments in the family dynamics.
Here are five things to remember for when your adult kids move back home.
1. They are not children and you are not an imbecile.
Neither generation should be treated as such. Not treating them as children includes but is not limited to: not establishing a curfew, not preparing meals on the assumption they will eat them, not doing their laundry or cleaning their living space. Not treating you as an imbecile includes: respecting the fact that if they don't come home when they say they will will cause you worry; if they make plans to eat dinner with you, they should honor those plans as they would any plans made with a friend; and that room and board doesn't include housekeeping or laundry.
2. Everyone here is a grownup.
Grownups help each other in both large and small ways and assume responsibilities. (Take out the garbage without being asked. Don't leave the cereal bowl in the sink. Give the dog a bath when she rolls in fertilizer.) Grownups also respect each other's privacy, sometimes walk around in their underwear and would prefer to know when strangers are in the kitchen if they do, and have sex and would prefer not to discuss it. This last is a two-way street.
3. Gratitude is always nice; entitlement, not so much.
You are opening your home to your adult child out of necessity -- his or hers, but not yours. That's fine, admirable, even expected. Respecting and appreciating that fact is appropriate. To some parents, having an adult child move back home is a joy. To others, it is a burden. To all, it will be a disruption of their own lives. When an adult child returns, he or she isn't the only one who has grown and changed. His or her parents have also moved on to another phase of their lives -- one in which caring for children is no longer a daily priority. Yes, parents have lives of their own!
4. Coordinating your schedules can help you steer clear of fights.
Schedules establish order in our chaos. Who gets up when and who makes the coffee can be a big deal. Little annoyances add up to big blowups. One of the silliest things in the world -- the need to stack park three cars in a driveway that holds just two -- can cause people to go momentarily insane if they have to move their car at 6 a.m. to let someone else out. Without going overboard, go through each person's daily schedule and work out things like who showers in the morning, how late will the outside lights be left on in the evening, what are quiet hours, and so forth.
5. This arrangement needs a clear beginning, middle and end.
So should the living arrangement. Set a start and finish date -- or at least a firm goal. If an adult child is moving home for financial reasons, be realistic. But be firm. Parenting may never end, but free room and board certainly can.
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