By Alecia Rice
Q: This spring, my adult son is moving home after graduating college out of state. Many things have changed in both of our lives. Is there anything I should consider in advance? — Second Time Around
A: Dear Second Time Around,
I haven’t found a good word to use to speak about our “children” when they’re adults. For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to refer to them as children even though we’re speaking about adults. As conscious parents, we’re wise to be aware that the children we send away to college arrive back home as full-fledged adults. There’s no doubt that much has changed for both parties after they’ve been out “adulting” in the world.
I suggest having a candid conversation, acknowledging the life changes that all have made since he moved away. He has some new needs and you probably do too. What worked before will probably not work now. Both parties need to make some adjustments for flow and cohesiveness, and as this new chapter begins, everyone will start on the same page with a clear understanding of expectations.
I’d begin by setting a date for how long he’ll be there. The timing may be a bit fuzzy at first due to finding jobs and new housing, but it’s best to at least start with a tentative date. If the future deadline rolls around and he’s still nowhere close to moving, it will be much easier to reference your original agreement as a baseline to begin the conversation. You can review the progress that has been made up to that point, reassess expectations and renegotiate a later date if you wish.
Talk about sharing responsibilities around the house, i.g. grocery shopping, pet care, laundry, meals, errands and chores. After living together for a while, it’s human nature that we begin to fall into previous patterns. It’s crucial that everyone knows what’s expected of them so all are properly contributing to a smooth-running household. It’s far too easy to fall back into parent-child patterning where mom is expected to take care of everything. It’s important to be protective of your personal energy so you can spend it doing the things that are fulfilling to you to keep the stress down. After all, it’s not necessarily easy to adapt to another adult moving in, which often brings new pressures and crimps on some of the freedoms we’d realized after they left.
You may also want to discuss if there will be any financial contributions for food, rent and utilities. Some parents are fine receiving nothing while their children are trying to get on their feet, while others expect them to contribute something. Another thing to consider is how to communicate about what time he’ll be home, if at all. It’s unreasonable to think our adult children should now have a curfew when they’ve been used to making decisions for themselves, so we need to find ways to navigate this when they’re living with us. Most important is that respect is shown on each side for growth and the change of circumstances. Telling you in advance that he’s not going to be joining you for dinner, or won’t be coming home all night is merely being considerate.
Sans religious beliefs, the last consideration for some may be a conversation around overnight guests. Part of conscious parenting is stretching ourselves to discuss things in ways that our parents maybe never did with us, which means creating new pathways never previously explored. It’s awkward for us to think about our children as sexual beings and vice versa. If overnight guests are fine, that should be stated, yet you may still want to define boundaries around that. Consider all the ins and outs of having a guest there and be clear on your expectations. It will save everyone some potential embarrassment in the long run.
There will be an adjustment period as each of you settles in. The time has come and gone where you should be giving commands or trying to force your perspective on him. The relationship should flow into being more collaborative and respectful of personal issues. Gentle suggestions of your opinion which leave room for his decision-making allows ample space for you both as adults. Hovering and questioning what he’s doing like he’s a teenager will only cause building resentment, so I suggest walking lightly. Most importantly, enjoy your time learning how your child has grown in thought and opinion. It’s not often we get an opportunity to spend extended time with our adult children.
Alecia Rice integrates higher concepts with wisdom to bring forth balance, perspective, and clarity. She’s a personal advisor, speaker, and gatherer of women. For perspective on life issues, you’re invited to text questions and comments to 681-321-1109. Discussions continue at Ask Alecia on Facebook.