I’m currently living with my two grown-up children during the corona virus-induced lockdown. Don’t make the mistakes I’ve made!
During this extended lockdown period, I have previously written about how I have had a reprieve from empty-nest syndrome. I am very grateful to have my two grown-up daughters living temporarily back at home. I can even say that on the whole, we are doing pretty well together. That’s not to say that I haven’t made a few blunders along the way. These are the mistakes to avoid when living with grown-up children:
Mistakes to Avoid when Parenting Adult Children
Treating your adults like small children. It is unreasonable to try to dictate what time your child should go to bed when they have been used to living according to their own schedule. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t chat with your young adult about fitting in with the wider household’s schedule and plans. For example, if you are cooking and eating as a family, then it is reasonable to expect your ‘young adult’ to be around at mealtimes to eat with everyone.
Dictating the Dos and Don’ts. Rather than setting house rules and expecting your young adults to simply toe the line, it is preferable to agree on living arrangements that are acceptable to everyone.
Responding with Anger. Whilst it is an ideal to live as ‘flatmates’ when your kids are grown-ups, the reality is that the greater part of the cooking, cleaning, and organizing is likely to fall on one parent. That is unless your ‘house rules’ really are being adhered to effectively. This is probably going to cause some resentment and, if you are like me, you are likely to have a meltdown and tell your kids off, like you might when they are small and have really been naughty! Don’t do this. It is disrespectful and it will create barriers that are hard to break down.
Making Assumptions. I am thrilled to have my kids home, so it is easy to assume that they are equally pleased to be home. Don’t make this assumption. The kids are mid-way through university courses, they have lives to be getting on with, boyfriends that they miss, don’t underestimate the importance of the losses that they are going through.
Ignoring Emotions. Linked to the disruption that is currently occurring in your grown-up kids lives. In the same way that you will have good and bad days in these current unsettled times, so will your kids. In our house, we are all missing our significant others. Make allowances for outbursts. It is unreasonable to expect the kids to be more together and more adult than you are.
Listening in on Phone Calls and Giving Advice. Just don’t! And if you really must be a sneaky eaves-dropper do not start giving advice.
Reliving their Childhood. Don’t expect your children to still love all the things you did together when they were little kids. They may have enjoyed doing jigsaws with you when they were tiny tots. They might not still feel the same!
Gossiping. Don’t talk negatively about one kid to the other. They will lose their trust in you and soon feel ganged upon. My youngest daughter, Betsy, frequently accuses me and her sister of sharing ‘looks’ when she bursts into her crazy songs or has her ‘Miranda Hart (clumsy) moments!
Being Over-protective. Don’t feel you have to be perfect yourself and hide your bad days too. It is unrealistic and it is going to lead to outbursts. You don’t need to overly protect your kids from the reality of what is occurring; do speak with them as equal adults and do expect that they will make allowances for your emotional highs and lows too.
Being Indirect. Giving hints about problems in your household are seldom effective. In my case, if I give a hint and it isn’t acted on then it just makes me grumpy! Be direct in what you need. If you need the bathroom keeping cleaner then say so, but calmly, not as a row, and as a confrontation. Make it one of your initial shared ground rules to speak your mind when required.
Aim to be as Laid Back as your Grown-Up Children
Living with grown-ups, in my case, ones with a tendency for binge-watching New Girl, learning TIK TOK dances, frequently singing at the tops of their voices, admiring the sky and playing (weirdly enough) Minecraft, can be a shock to the system. The final mistake to avoid is commenting on each, or even any of these activities too often.
Go with the flow, take long walks, and hopefully you won’t make too many mistakes!
(Passionate about education, reading, and writing, Sally is an enthusiastic blogger. In Book and Family Chat she frequently posts from the perspective of a fifty-year-old, fun-loving mum on all things family, book, family, and travel related. As an ex-Head of Libraries and English teacher she has published several children’s books.)