It’s not unusual today for college graduates to return home to live while they job search or determine what their next step in life may be. While many parents (and their children) panic at this thought, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might think. Careful planning and communication are important in order to pave the way for a smooth transition for everyone.
Although the attitudes of parents vary from, “I really don’t want this to happen” to “Hey, I have another set of hands around the house,” the adjustment is real. With careful planning and communication, the months ahead can be manageable and even enjoyable. Seriously!
SET LIMITATIONS, EXPECTATIONS, AND BOUNDARIES
The most common fear I hear from parents is that the child will sleep all day and play video games all night. Some parents seem to feel that they have lost their ability to make rules for those living in their household. Why? The reality is that you are financially supporting your son or daughter and you can make rules that everyone in the home has to abide by. This isn’t so difficult.
From the outset, make your expectations and boundaries crystal clear. This is the time to be firm and not waver from what you expect. At the same time, you must compromise. What can you tolerate and what will drive you crazy? We all know what our limits are and what we cannot tolerate. Be clear about this.
WHAT CAN YOU TOLERATE AND WHAT IS A HARD NO?
Your adult child has most likely lived on his own for at least a few years without a curfew or someone telling him what to do. He has been responsible for getting himself up in order to go to class, do homework, and take care of business. He has compromised with his roommates, done his laundry and managed to keep himself fed and healthy. He still has these skills, so there is no reason he can’t continue to demonstrate adult behavior in your home.
If he is not employed, set expectations for his schedule. If he’s looking for a job, have him treat the job search as a job. He can also help around the house. How can he be helpful to you? Assign tasks and responsibilities. If he is unable to find a job, volunteer work is always an option. It’s resume building and helps to put him on a schedule.
Many parents admit that they feel they cannot set limits or boundaries with their adult children while they are living at home. Why not? It’s your home, your rules. Are you afraid of your child? Afraid that they will be angry? If this is your reality, take some time to explore your fear or reluctance. Coaching can help to help you to look at what’s behind those feelings.
AVOID THOSE HOT BUTTON ISSUES!
It is not unusual for children to be exposed to different lifestyles and values when they leave home. This is part of growing up and figuring who they are and where they belong in their world. Allow yourself to be patient and understanding. Avoid bringing judgment into the conversation and ask curious questions instead.
At the same time, you may find that political, religious or social beliefs that they held at age 16 have shifted dramatically. Sometimes it is best to avoid hot button discussions which will inevitably lead to more conflict. Anyone on social media is aware that it is virtually impossible to change people’s minds on those issues, so why try? If your family can have calm and thoughtful discussions, go for it. If this is not your family, proceed with caution.
Chances are your adult child has been successful in many areas of his life. Maybe his success doesn’t look like your view of success. Or perhaps he’s not approaching his tasks in the same way you would. That doesn’t mean that his way is incorrect and won’t be fruitful! Trust that he will use the intelligence and motivation that has brought him success in the past to bring him success in the future. TRUST him, and trust that you have done a great job as a parent (you know you have).
Sometimes issues that we see in our children require professional intervention. Allow yourself to view what’s going on with an unbiased lens. Many times that isn’t possible because well, we are parents. What you view as laziness or poor motivation can be depression or anxiety. Don’t hesitate to seek a professional opinion.
Treasure the time with your son or daughter while they are in your home. Cook together, take a walk and learn more about each other. Your relationship is changing and it is a transition for all of you. This current time period is one of significant adjustment. How nice would it be to reflect upon these years with fond and loving memories? Your relationship will have weathered some changes, but the storm can result in a closer and more mature relationship.