If your day includes: picking up Dirty towels left on the bathroom floor, driving lessons at the end of a full day of work , three extra trips in the car to the shops, workplaces or party drop off/pick up on the weekend then you are more than likely parenting a young adult. Sharing space and navigating a new relationship where as a parent, you aren’t the big decisions maker can come with more than a few bumps in the road. The road can vary and experience has taught me a few things that have helped me become a bit more alert and better at sharing the road. If living harmoniously is your goal then without question; here are some tips for living with your young adult .
We all change as we mature. Our interests change over time and life experiences shape who we are and our perspective on life. It can be comfortable to continue relating to your young adult in the same way as you have but learning how to support them while they develop their independence in the world means that there will be changes.
Words hold power.
There will be choices in your child’s life that you may not understand such as: friendships,music, tattoos/piercings, relationships or career choices. Focus on using words that make your Son or daughter know that you are happy to see them and be in their company rather than putting conditions on the relationship.
Set boundaries together.
Personal space is important to maintaining a healthy relationship. I have never entered my children’s bedrooms or cleaned them unless I was asked to retrieve something once they reached 16. Even though it made me cringe at the mess, I found that constantly nagging them to clean up their room made them more determined not to. Say it once; ask nicely and shut the door so you cant see it. When it comes to partners or friends sleeping over you still call the shots, it is still your house and you need to feel comfortable with the people who enter it.
Make sure expectations are clear.
Clear expectations in regard to responsibilities such as: cleaning , care of pets , laundry etc and how they are now shared can prevent arguments. Don’t assume that it’s just understood.
Take a step back.
Watching your child grow into an adult is a cross between satisfying and heartbreaking at the same time. Some of your time now belongs to you, but the worry can be constant as you are more aware of the world out there than they are. Remembering than you can’t always call the shots now is tough, especially when they make decisions that you know could result in regret for them down the track. I have friends who have regrets of getting large tattoos of animals, partners names in places that cannot be hidden or spending years in a relationship that was not healthy. These things are personal choices and ones that you as a parent will often have to take the back seat for.
Don’t be a pushover.
Moving towards a more grown up relationship doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be respected. Make it clear that some rules remain the same, your child is an adult now so expect them to act like one. Shouting , swearing and threats are not acceptable ways to communicate. Rules about what goes on in your house are not negotiable. Also Remember that your words hold power when communicating with them so choose them wisely and give yourself some distance if you feel that your tongue may get you in trouble.
Find a financial system that works for both you and your adult child and run with it.
This can vary, licencing and insurance of their car is always a good place to start. If charging rent is not viable in the agreement due to circumstances then your adult child can make other contributions to the family such as fixing dinner, mowing lawns or extra household duties; they may not like the idea when presented to them, but you aren’t running a hotel. If the exchange is reasonable and not overly time demanding then they will feel like they are gaining a fair exchange. Purchases of extra personal care products beyond the necessities such as: toothpaste, toothbrushes , soap , deoderant and toothpaste in our house have always been met by our children once they were earning a fulltime wage.
Whether you like it or not your child will grow up. Spending hours being consumed by trying to please them is not healthy; if the arrangement doesn’t work then not living together is a better option for your relationship. As heartbreaking as that may seem at the time ,you will both benefit in the long term with a healthier relationship.