How To Set Boundaries When Your Adult Kid Lives at Home

Maybe your adult kid moved back home after graduating from school, or perhaps they’re living with you to save some money before fleeing the nest. Whether it’s a temporary thing or you’re a multi-gen household for the long term, living with your adult kid can be equal parts rewarding and frustrating as f*ck, so how can you peacefully coexist without stress, drama, or resentment?

No matter the situation, it’s understandable if living with your grown-ass kid just feels different than life with the sweet little one you nurtured and raised to adulthood. They’re an adult now, and you might notice that they’re more like a pesky roommate who makes messes and never contributes instead of the respectful, caring child you hoped they’d become.

It’s totally normal if this new dynamic has you scratching your head, says Ernesto Lira de la Rosa, psychologist and Hope for Depression Research Foundation media advisor. He says that some challenges you might face include different expectations with household duties, managing arguments and frustrations, and adjusting to personal/private space.

“Parents and young adult kids may experience challenges figuring out how to handle household duties such as cleaning, grocery shopping, as well as contributions to bills and rent,” he says. “Additionally, it is normal for parents and kids to have arguments about these topics, and the way they both handle and resolve arguments is crucial to managing a peaceful living environment. There is also the potential for challenges managing and addressing what each person needs with regards to personal space.”

Awkward situations could abound, from your kid having parties or bringing romantic partners back to them invading your own intimate time. This means you’ll need to have some conversations in which you clearly articulate the boundaries you plan to set, whether it be a financial agreement, a plan for household chores and tasks, a social setup that makes all parties feel comfortable, or some combination of the three.

Where to Begin

“I would recommend that parents think about communication, clear expectations, and ongoing conversations with their children when living at home,” says Lira de la Rosa. “In particular, it may be helpful for parents to check in with their children about ways they will communicate with each other when they are living together and to talk about expectations for living together. This can include setting clear guidelines around curfew, contributions to household chores/duties, and paying bills and rent prior to moving back in together.”

Even after the initial boundary conversations, you’ll need to keep the lines of communication open as long as they’re still living with you. “It is important that parents and children continue to have open and honest ongoing conversations as they live together because issues and challenges are inevitable,” he says.

They might be older — and possibly even wiser — but that doesn’t mean your adult kid is going to be perfect. That’s where you need to learn how to readjust your expectations as a parent, notes Lira de la Rosa. “Rules will be broken, and expectations may need to be reset,” he says. “It is helpful for parents to share how broken rules impact them and how they would like to move forward. This may mean talking about what happened and deciding together if the rule or expectation needs to be adjusted.”

And yeah, conflicts will arise, even if they look different than the tween and teen mood swings you became used to not so long ago. “Both parties need to listen to each other and work through the conflict as this will help with resolving future issues,” he says. “Having these open and honest conversations is so helpful to ensure that there isn’t any longer anger, frustration, or resentment built up over time.”

The Talk About “The Talk”

No matter the issue, parents should clear the air as soon as possible, ideally before their kid moves back in or early on in the new arrangement.

“Privacy and autonomy at home is important and should be respected by both parents and adult children,” says Lira de la Rosa. “This is why it is recommended that parents and children talk about what each would like in terms of privacy and autonomy early on. Then, both parties can agree to norms and expectations around this. This may mean determining what day(s) each person needs time alone in the house or how to arrange time and dates if any family member will have guests over.”

Unfortunately, giving your kid an inch might mean they start taking a mile. And yeah, you’re 100% in the right to have some feelings about it. “It is not uncommon for parents to feel that their children are taking advantage of the living arrangement,” he says. “It is bound to happen, and it can also be resolved. However, if there are consistent boundary crossings — if you feel anxious and stressed most of the time about the living arrangement, and you begin to feel angry and resentful — these are all signs that something is not right.”

Lira de la Rosa recommends first taking some time to process what you’re feeling and what might help you feel better. “Is it talking it out with a friend? Having a conversation with your child about how you are feeling?” he says, adding, “Next, I would also solicit advice from a trusted person about the situation to get an outside perspective. Once you take inventory of what is going on and how you are feeling, you can then decide on a plan of action. This may mean having a frank conversation with your child about the living arrangement and whether it is or isn’t working.”

Open and honest dialogue — as well as setting clear expectations — will ensure you’re being heard. Loving and nurturing your kid at any age often involves having tough conversations, and even if it feels scary, this one isn’t anything you can’t handle.

Originally Posted Here

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