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young adult and mom

7 Tips To Avoid Conflict When Young Adults Move Home

They’re back. Many College and University students are writing exams, wrapping up term assignments, packing up boxes and moving back home. Just when we were getting used to them being gone and adjusting to new routines, our young adults are coming home to roost. In addition, according to the 2011 census, 42.3 per cent of young adults ages 20 – 29 are living with their parents for many reasons: newly graduated from post-secondary education and trying to find their way in the world, financial struggles, job loss, housing problems, relationship break-ups.

There are many positives for both parties living in these circumstances, like mutual support and the joy of each other’s company. At the same time, there is potential for conflict. Can you live together as “roommates” and shift out of the “parent” and “child” roles you’ve experienced up until now? Are there still household rules that need to be adhered to? Who does what chores? Should there be some financial contribution to the household from all parties? Do you have to check-in? What about privacy?

In order to avoid potential conflicts in the household when young adults return home, here are some things that parents should consider:

  1. Before your children return home, figure out what is important to you. Is it cleanliness? Is it over-night guests? Is it space and privacy?
  2. Sit down and discuss with your young adult children how things are going to work now. What are your expectations? How will you respect one another? Who is responsible for what? Do you expect them to pay rent?
  3. Recognize that your relationship will be different and avoid falling back into treating your adult children as you did when they were young. It is also important for young people to understand that parents have their own life and interests and that their life does not revolve around their children’s schedules anymore.
  4. Don’t be the fixer. Parents have a great urgency to not let their children make the same mistakes that they made. Yet it was in learning from those mistakes, that made them stronger people. You can support and encourage your young adults, but they need to make their own decisions and to manage the consequences of those decisions whether or not they are living under your roof. Also, be aware of your language choices. Change the “shoulds” to “coulds.” While you may think you are only making a suggestion, they often hear it as telling them what to do.
  5. Household duties like meals, laundry, ironing, general tidy-up should be discussed and assigned. Avoid falling back into the habit of doing all of the cooking and cleaning and allow them to assume some of that responsibility. Remember, if they weren’t living at home, they’d have to be juggling all of these duties on their own.
  6. Discuss shared space and privacy. Who has control over the TV? Where will we keep everyone’s laptops? What are the expectations when company visits?
  7. Have the “good guest” talk. When children grow up in a home, they often adopt the attitude that the home they live in is their house and the cars are their cars. While parents want to send the message that their children are always welcome in their home, they also need to convey the message that their grown children are guests living in their parents’ home and that means asking to borrow the car and being respectful of their parents’ property. Part of being a “good guest” is also realizing that the actions of one member of the household impact the others in that household. So, while they may no longer have “a curfew,” if they don’t come home at night, it is being a good and thoughtful guest to share that information so mom and dad don’t worry.

Planning and preparing for young people living at home longer and potentially returning home will make it easier on both parents and their young adults.