This is the new "normal" in our American society. How are YOU handling this apparent shift of economic dependency on you and your spouse? Take some tips from someone who knows just how it CAN work for everybody!
“Adult Children Living at Home” How to deal effectively with today’s new challenge! Margie Roop, Regional Director LifeServices EAP
What in the heck is happening today…?!A recent study saidthat nearly 53% ofyoung adults ages 18-24 in the U.S. areresiding with theirparents!
Why are they still living at home? Economics? Failure to thrive? Poor life decisions, i.e., Saving money to live on DUIs that add costs or own? forfeit rights? Cheaper while Out-of-control spending? attending college? In/out of H.S./college so Saving money to good job attainment is invest? diminished? Loss of job? Immature; unable to set Reliant for medical and achieve life goals help? (undiagnosed or treated mental health issues)?
However…… ARE you setting yourself YOUR blood pressure is up for failure by allowing escalating! irresponsible behaviors to Your bills are climbing! occur & continue? You are more exhausted! What are doing for them which they SHOULD be You feel neglected & doing for themselves? unappreciated! Is there a plan of action You see your doctor more for them to move out or often are you blinding just Your work is suffering. HOPING that one day, they’ll “get it” and move The recipe for STRESS! out?
Who’s controlling who?• If your child is controlling your house, then you are allowing yourself to be controlled!• If your child has not saved up money to move out on their own, you might start to think: will they ever move out?• Living at home does take pressure off of them: mom and dad paying the bills, cooking, laundry, cleaning, etc…it gets real comfortable!
Some are “slower to mature”• Developmentally, they just don’t seem quite ready to go it alone or take care of themselves yet.• Typically, in these cases, the parents have been “over- functioning” for their kids.• There is a big difference between HELPING and OVER- FUNCTIONING.
So, what exactly is considered “helping” your adult child? Helping your child is doing something for themselves which they cannot do themselves, i.e., driving them somewhere because they have a broken leg, displaced from their housing due to natural disaster, etc… Helping does NOT evoke feelings of resentment on your part; you feel A-OK about assisting them during their time of need.
What exactly is “over-functioning” for your adult child? Over-functioning is doing something for your child which they CAN DO THEMSELVES: their laundry, cleaning up after their messes, taking out the garbage, chipping in on bills, etc… When you are over-functioning for your child, you are allowing the negative behaviors to continue! The good news is: it is within YOUR CONTROL to change the situation!
You need a plan of action for your child!• The message can be: “You’re not just here for good; we’re going to help you but, the goal is for you to get on your feet.”• Having a goal is VERY important because it will ensure that your child’s stay back home doesn’t drag on forever.
Kids who Fail to Launch….. “But he’s just lost…” “He’s going through a hard time…” The truth is: when your kid cannot launch, you • The more parents feel are ENABLING him! controlled by their kids, the more the parents If your child is will try to control their controlling your house, kids! then you are allowing yourself to be • …but, the more they try controlled to control the child, the And, if your kids have longer their child stays, never left, then it’s digs their heels in, and because you have fights to get his own allowed them to stay. way!
When you feel you are being controlled, you have a few choices:• You can be reactive to your child’s reactivity, and watch things escalate OR you can try to be objective & thoughtful about how you want to handle the situation.• You could say (reactive): “You It truly is all about how you have lived here now for three years; when in the heck are you approach the situation and if you going to get a job?!” are ready to let go of your own• OR, you could say (objective): controlling behaviors! “What is your plan for getting a job? Please think about it and let’s talk after dinner tomorrow evening.”
Children with disabilities • Many of us handle our anxiety by• There are children with ADHD, over-functioning for our kids; when it’s AD, and/or other issues who a disability, it gives the parent all the cannot, for example, do more reason to ”overdo for their kids! their own laundry or cook for themselves. • The key: stop focusing on what is• No matter, the goal is for your wrong with your child. child to become as • Stop asking: How can I get my child autonomous as possible! to be a certain way?” Start thinking• Over-functioning may even about what they CAN do on his own be worse with a child with a disability with the parent • It’s important to think about what using the disability as an YOU need: Just turn it around! excuse; the disability then gets over-exaggerated.• That’s the main reason why some kids never leave their parents’ house or never make it on their own!
Nine points to follow……. #1 Really? Come again? Before your child moves • Make sure everything is back in, sit down & made clear! hammer out guidelines. What is it that both of us needs? They are a “guest”; this is not permanent! Be respectful and expect that all will work in collaboration.
#2 Set Limits….. Set a timeline of how long they will stay, i.e., “Until you get a job” or “Until you get your first paycheck, or “In three months.” You need to create motivation; if there is no time limit, there’s no motivation.
#3 Have a plan of action….. Have a plan that in three, six, or nine months, you’ll help them get an apartment; this DOES NOT mean that you pay for everything, but maybe you’ll agree to assist financially in some way, however, if you choose to give them money do so in decreasing amounts as you reach their time to leave! Will you charge rent? Utilities? Whatever you choose, the message needs to be: “If you are living in this house, you need to demonstrate that you are working towards your own independence! We need to see that and you need to help yourself make that happen!”
#4 Consider your own needs….. Always come from a clear sense of yourself! How will you consider your needs as an adult who did not expect to have someone back home? What are you willing to put up with? State your needs clearly and firmly to your child! What are your bottom lines? Values? Need for privacy? Can they have friends over? What must they help with? Pay rent? Drinking in the home? Illegal drug use?
#5 Don’t get pulled into guilt….. If you’ve always done for your child and now you’re • If you start to feel asking him to be responsible & contribute to resentment, you need to the household, understand ask yourself, “how am I that you are changing a not addressing this issue system. and stepping over my own my own boundaries You will likely get resistance here?” and get “push-back.” Your child may get angry & say: “I can’t believe my own parents are doing this to me!” Don’t get pulled back into guilt; as long as you have considered your own needs & principles, you’ll be able to hold on through your anger as you insist your child get on his own feet!
#6 Try not to react to your child’s anger…… Try to be kind and firm and work towards being thoughtful about the issue. Say: “You know what, let me think about what you’re saying & we’ll talk about this later.” Are you afraid of your child’s anger? If so, then unless you get help, you will never going to be willing to do what it takes!
#7 When you’re feeling controlled by your child….. Ask YOURSELF, how If you answer “No” to am I allowing this to any of these happen? “Am I not questions, you need making clear enough to address those boundaries?” “Am I issues with your child not making my right away! expectations more clearly known?”
#8 When the relationship becomes abusive…. The question to ask yourself is: Keep your OWN needs in “What am I willing to live mind: for safety & respect! with?” “What I expect here is There is no excuse for abuse & peace & calm; this is not it should not be tolerated! working out: it is time for If you are in a dangerous you to move out.” situation & your child is Do not contribute to your scaring you, it is time to ask child’s reactiveness with them to leave! your own reactiveness; In what way am I allowing YOU ARE CONTRIBUTING them to do this to me? TO THE PROBLEM! “If I’m feeling endangered here, then I will need to call the police, then DO SO!!
#9 When it’s time for your adult child to leave the nest…. The bottom line is this: if you feel that you have done your part responsibly or that your child is not living up to their part of the It is up to you; you bargain, & is taking must decide; you will advantage of you, maybe it is time for him FEEL it and KNOW it! to move out.”
Call LifeServices EAP for help! You can be helped with this often times challenging situation! You can co-exist with your adult child and make it work1 You have to be willing to give up certain behaviors and adopt new and healthier ones! Helpful resource: Debbie Pincus, MS, LMHC, “Empowering Parents”, www.empoweringparents.com 1-800-822-4847