Living Together: Tips for parents of adult offspring living at home

By Teresa Wilson

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Of all the changes in a family’s life cycle from the birth of the first born to when the cycle begins again with that child having their first born, leaving home for the first time, perhaps to go on to further education away from home, is often one of the most significant for both the young person and parents. Most re-adjust and enjoy both the independence from each other as well the new relationships of coming back to be together for study breaks, week ends etc. But what happens when the degree has been awarded (Hopefully!) and the now adult offspring return home which in these economically challenging times is happening increasingly again.

I say again because it is has only been in the last 50 years that large numbers young people moved out of the family home to flat/house shares as a general expectation post University. Perhaps there are some tips to be had from looking back as well as creating some new understandings of how to make adult family life a positive time to remember in future. All too often family members believe that just because they are a family all should be OK and you can just DO living together and it will be alright. In my personal and professional experience the situation is vastly different when the young return home after having been away, experienced independence and then return to live at home as adults. Often, while the young have been away many parents will have adjusted and adapted their lives in ways that their children will not be expecting and at the same time the young adults expectations of life at home again may have changed or not. Any of these possibilities will impact on life in the family home.

With this in mind some tips:

  • Recognise that your family and the relationships within it are unique and special. This means that time and space needs to be put aside specifically to think about the potential challenges that might arise by the re-adjustment of off-spring returning to live at home.
  • Parents and adult children need consider their own and hear each other’s views about how each thinks it can work well.
  • Listen to differences of opinion as to how it should work – better to know where the possible pitfalls are and work round them than fall in to them later!!

Clear agreements are highly recommended to reduce misunderstanding – perhaps this would look more like house share rules which the young may have ideas about from their experience at University/College that their parents may have forgotten!!! Different families will need to include different things depending on their relationships, their situation and particular family cultural beliefs. For example how much sharing of time and space, chores, meals, transport, is expected or not as well as the tricky aspect of any things financial!

Agree regular check in times to see how things are going or if some adjustments need to be made.

REMEMBER: it is your house and home.