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Parenting Your At-Home Adult Child

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You’ve probably heard of the trend: young adults not moving out of their parents’ home after high school; or young adults moving back after college or other life-changing events. That trend leaves moms wondering how to relate to their children who are now adults, but still living under their roof.

According to Drs. Ross Campbell and Gary Chapman, authors of Parenting Your Adult Child, parents need to establish guidelines and share their expectations with their adult children. Campbell and Chapman provide the following guidelines:


Maintain open communication with your child. You may find it helpful to have a weekly (or monthly) family meeting to discuss any concerns or issues your family members have. Let your child know that you value his opinions, and while you may not follow his wishes, you are listening to his concerns.


While your older child has a great deal more freedom than his younger siblings, he also needs to be given more responsibility if he is to be a part of the household. Make sure he is contributing to the chores and care of the home, and have him contribute financially too — either by paying bills, paying “rent” or buying groceries.


While your children may not share all of your morals and values, you can certainly expect them to respect and honor your beliefs while they are living in your home. Be straightforward about whether or not you will allow drinking or smoking; share your views on opposite sex visitors; and be clear about all behaviors you will not tolerate.


Campbell and Chapman recommend that parents do what is necessary to maintain their own physical and mental health. For example, if your son’s room is a disaster and it bothers you, keep his door closed rather than stew over it. Or, if you know you will stay up all night worrying until your son comes home, set up a rule that each family member lets the others know if they will be out late. This doesn’t mean that you are setting curfews, requiring details of his every move or checking up on your adult child, but explain you need this courtesy for your own peace of mind.


Set goals and limits with your child at the beginning of their move-in. For example, you may have an engaged daughter who is only living with you until the wedding date. Or perhaps your son is saving for a down payment on his own house or he just started an entry-level job and needs some help until his first promotion. Whatever the circumstances, set a limit on how long your child will remain in the home. And while the length may be renegotiated, having a goal will help keep your child motivated to move on.

Concluding Thoughts

While you may still have some rough spots in your transitioning relationship with your young adult, having clearly defined guidelines and verbalized expectations will help make the process smoother.

This article is based on the book, “Parenting Your Adult Child,” by Drs. Ross Campbell and Gary Chapman. 


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