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Parenting Your Adult Child: How to Set up a Mutual Living Agreement

Parenting Your Adult Child

Studies are showing while adult children are living at home, or will, managing your disagreements as well as agreements will eventually get you to realize that you’ll know when it’s “time for them to leave. “  And since there are approximately 25 million adult children living in a home with their parents in the U.S., it’s time something has to be done, NOW!

Debbie Pincus explains in her article, “Adult Children Living at Home,” you can manage your adult children at home effectively if you set the boundaries as soon as possible. They can end up living at home for reasons uncontrollable, such as if they have a disability or they need to build up financially by saving which will help secure their future. Another reason can be they simply haven’t developed on the mature side yet, but give them time, not too much though, they can be late bloomers.

Although if you see that within the time from beginning of that ‘saving conversation’ you may have had isn’t what it is…stop. This is the lesson for both. What route you take as a parent can be results that you may or may not want or need.  You either ‘kick them out’ plain and simple, or give them the ultimatum; a method of planning with a financial goal in mind that both will grasp into a binded agreement. Write it down, a contract of sorts. A plan of action or contract with your adult child will work. 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,” Pincus suggests. Ensuring both that this will not be forever. Yet, with no plan, frustration and resentments can unfold.

Since recent studies suggest that 53 percent of 18-24 years live with their parents and managing them can mean sharing responsibilities with the chores, plus, even if showing that they’re showing bad attitudes and irresponsibility, agreements must overtake the bad patterns they have or are developing. But, you want them to leave “the nest” with a sound mind and healthy relationship between both of you. You don’t want them to repeat the-living-at-home-with parents later on life…like their 40s, 50s, even 60s.

Stop Over Functioning and Enableing

There may be some things going on that can blindside a parent.  One is the difference between over-functioning and enabling behaviors. Two different things: helping, for instance, is one thing but over–functioning can be something quite different. For instance, helping with advice needed, especially if asked is one good thing.  But, when over–functioning such as doing his/her dishes, laundry, cleaning their rooms,…etc. is another, Pincus says. Personal things that he/she can do themselves should stay that way. If you began doing his/her laundry while they were living there years ago, but then he/she is back translates to stop doing the laundry for them.

Most importantly, when it comes to enabling adult children controlling the house, or so it may seem; you may be allowing it. If living there since the high school years, for instance, you allowed it. Although, late is better than never. You can set your foot down immediately. It’s a must.   Power struggles are never good for the mentality of both parent and child. But it’s the power of the parent that reigns. Escalating them with a negative attitude back will only make it hard also. Being objective, caring thoughtful and confident on handling the situation is what’s more helpful.  Saying the same things loudly at them such as get a job, cut your hair, you’ve been here for so many years…blah, blah, blah, is “static” to them. Instead, Pincus says,  speak directly and say something like: “What’s your plan (on your job search, your savings, your school, your future…)?” and not all at once. From the most importance to the least, you don’t want to get overwhelmed.  
Source: Pincus, Debbie MS LMHC. N/D.  “Empowering Parents: Adult Child Living at Home.” retrieved on 6 -22-15 from


Written by BM Staff


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