Popular culture is full of stigmas about grown adults who have to move back home. It’s in movies and books all over the world, talking about how some adults move back home with mom and dad.
Whether you’re home because of coronavirus, money, or any number of reasons, those are your reasons and no justification is required. There shouldn’t be a shaming of adults who return home. There are some cultures where children don’t move out at all. They merely make the house bigger and start paying the bills when they join the workforce. There’s just a lot of adjustment that has to take place and here is how it should go.
As an adult, whether you’re home for the summer from college, home temporarily while you’re looking for new digs or home because you’re between jobs, an agreement must be made. Assuming you’re a reasonable adult, you realize that you have to contribute to the household. Don’t have a job yet? Take over some of the chores. Have a job? Pitch in with the rent or utilities on top of those chores.
It may be tough for parents to see that you’re an adult now. Equally so for parents to realize their child that they’ve spent basically 2 decades raising is no longer under their control. There has to be an adjustment. Things cannot go back to how things used to be or else parent and child will destroy their relationship.
Parents need to realize they can’t set a curfew for their graduate school age children, some of whom may have children of their own. They need to see that their child has returned home but has a mind of their own. Imposing your thoughts and rules will only result in fights and resentment. Treat these young or full adults with some respect and dignity, rather than command and an assumption of obedience. After all, they may have been living on their own for some time, with schedules and expectations of their own lives that do not gel with yours. Just like you prefer to do things a certain way, they might too. There is no wrong way to do things, unless they’re destroying property or committing crimes.
Similarly, those returning home need to realize that by a certain age, people get set in their ways. They’re used to doing things a certain way and it’s mentally difficult to form new thought patterns, especially associated with loved ones they’ve raised for decades. Give it a little time and some patience but also treat it like a job in that you come to the table with ideas of your own on how to support the running of the household and make an agreement. Do not just sit back and expect to be catered to like before. Similarly, do not bow and take a scolded like a preschooler for rules you feel are written for children. Speak up in a respectful manner that conveys how unfair you find these rules.
It’s really better for both parent and child that a child is never catered to completely to the point that their child is a rotten egg. That’s the ideal but as many teachers will tell you, sometimes, spoiling children runs across multiple generations into creating spoiled adults.
So to avoid resentment, communication is really key. Outlining how the contributions to the household are managed in stated explicit terms rather than vague assumptions is a must. Treat it like a contract if you’d prefer but both parties must have an agreed upon specific and understood guideline similar to how a business would. All families will fight but fights over money destroy families so make sure everything is crystal clear. Compromise is important. You can only get that if you have respect first.
Some key ideas for compromise. Lets say you’re a musician or game with parents who sleep early? Put on some headphones. Lets say your college age child is working on a graduate thesis? Leave them alone during designated times of study, even if you feel like asking if they happen to be hungry. What about living with siblings again? Despite how annoying siblings can be, realize that they need space too.
Boundaries must be clearly stated, respected and understood. Have a family member who has a food allergy to a food you’ve discovered you love? Find an alternative otherwise you risk hurting your family. It’s about being considerate of others. Being mindful costs you nothing and can gain you considerable latitude or respect.
If tragedy has struck, all the more reason to communicate. Talk about the fears, the expectations, and the great times. Revive family traditions now that the family is together again. Do things together to support each other but also give each other space. Tackle chores together, discover new activities or hobbies together. Share in the skills or experiences that you’ve learned since you’re been apart.
Sometimes, space can be a luxury some families can’t afford. Lets say you literally can’t go to another room. This would be an admittedly tough situation for anyone but confided spaces turn that up to 11. Remember those headphones I mentioned? Those will come in handy. Hope you’ve got a spare pair to lend out to a sibling. At least, one of the advantages of living in the age of the internet is having the world at your fingertips. Some how, someway, you can reach out to someone or do something else completely different even while sitting right next to someone who annoys the hell out of you.
Keep onto the thought that living at home is temporary. It will not last forever, though some hard choices may have to be made. Remaining positive and looking to the future will provide a source of stress relief-or at the very least a good day dream. Forgiving the past and finding a new normal should be one of the primary goals. You have one family, love them or hate them.
Just like with many other aspects of life, families take work. Only this time, instead of just the parents putting in the work, that burden is shared with those whom have returned home. Hopefully everyone will find a way to mesh in these troubled times. After all, you’re one household under one roof. You’re literally all in it together.
Love, Hope, Respect.