4 Rules for Adult Children Living at Home


Adult Children Living at Home

‘Tis the season to be jolly, if you’re many a mom anxiously awaiting the Back-to-School routine. But not every mom is doing a happy dance, so beware the weeping women in the backpack section at Target. For some, there is marked melancholy this time of year which has little to do with chicks fleeing our nests. Quite the contrary, some of us have the opposite: Kids who aren’t going back to school and are returning to roost under our weary wings.

For varying life choices, not every high school graduate who tossed a tasseled mortarboard into the air last June will be packing bags this fall. And not all college coeds who once left with great fanfare are heading back to dormitories. Lucky us.

If you have the pleasure of living with young adults under your roof, pour a glass and make sure there’s ink in your printer. Remember seeing your mom’s yellowed Dear Abby column taped to the fridge? You may want to start up that tradition. If living harmoniously is your goal, then without question, here are four rules for adult children living at home:

1. You will contribute financially to this household. You can call it rent, or room and board or even living fees. But the truth is, something’s got to get coughed up each week and it has little to do with the obvious fact that everything increases with every warm body that is planted in a home. Food, water, electric, cable, everything. That’s a no-brainer. The more important reason for pitching into the household is because you should, that’s why. If you’re not working hard enough to fork over money each week, then you’re not working hard enough. Period. Throw in a few home cooked meals and access to laundry and you’d be up a creek if you had to REALLY pay for all this stuff outside of this home. Be happy to hand over a minimal yet reasonable amount. You don’t see it now, but this absurd and unfair demand is building character and an appreciation for what things cost, of which you truly have no idea.

This is my house, therefore it is MY bedroom. You get to sleep in it. You are welcome to enjoy continued privacy in this space that is covered under my mortgage payment, so long as you respect this space. Foul smells coming out of it render your privacy null and void. The detection of wet towels, food items or ANY suspicion of conduct unbecoming also nullifies the terms of your privacy.

2. We are your family, not your roommates. Picking up after yourself is a sign of respect for those who live among you. Not doing so is a blatant sign of immaturity which indicates you simply do not understand this. No one wants to see hairs in a sink, step on toenail clippings or find food, utensils, blood, body parts or schmegma in the bathroom. If people can figure out what you’ve eaten for breakfast based on the remains left on the kitchen counter, you are being rude. The maid is far too busy pruning the money tree out back. Put stuff away and get rid of your own mess. Common courtesy, that’s all.

3. Rules are in place for respect, not ridicule. We get it. We were there once, too. You’re not the first kid to return from college only to shriek about all the humiliating injustices of your parents. But if you’ve been given a curfew, it’s likely because you’ve given us reason to give one. If you’ve been given limits on the car you’re driving, the same holds true. The easiest fix for this is to start doing what’s requested of you, understand the importance of proving your maturity through actions over words and earn OUR respect. Want to come and go at your own leisure? Simply buy your own car and pay your own insurance.

4. Being over 18 doesn’t make you a grown up. Please. Stop stomping your feet, diploma in hand, and screaming that you’re an adult now. It only makes us giggle. The only thing you’ve accomplished to date is getting through high school. Big whoop. It’s the 21st century, filled with technology that practically reads the books for you. You’re supposed to finish high school. Whatever path you’re on right now doesn’t detract from the reality that you are presently living with your mommy and daddy and you will not – cannot – be considered a grown up under these amusing circumstances. Until you are financially independent you are decidedly NOT a grown up. Don’t be mad. Don’t sulk. And don’t ever be foolish enough to think the grass is greener elsewhere. I defy you to find a living situation better than here (yet if you do, I will most certainly help you pack your things). My motivation is solely love. I am doing my part in preparing you to be a good wife, mother, husband, stellar employee, upstanding citizen or under-the-radar inmate.

You. Are. Welcome.

Love, Mom

Related post: 25 Reasons I’m Glad My Kids Are Grown Up


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  1. says

    My son will be attending a local college next year, and he wants to live with us as he is an introvert like his mama. He is not the messiest teen ever, so I don’t have a lot of complaints. He likes to stay home, so there is no curfew in place. I’m pretty sure he may live with us forever.

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    • Wendy Martin says

      My oldest was the same way but we made him live in the dorms his freshman year. I didn’t want college to be high school part 2 for him. He lived there for a year and last summer moved into his own apartment. He’s still just 20 minutes away, but he texts me more often than he ever did and sometimes drops by just to say hi.

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    • JJ says

      My daughter is an introvert too – HUGE INTROVERT. If we don’t push her out of the nest she will stay here forever, I’m sure. I am very worried about her moving away and living in a dorm (she’s a HS jr this year) but I feel like if she doesn’t try at this age when everyone at school is starting over and meeting new people, then she never will. We keep telling her how great moving away and dorms are so she seems ok with the idea. Fingers crossed!

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  2. Mary says

    With a baby girl on the cusp of college- she just began her senior year, and is preparing to graduate in January, to begin college classes… Yikes… I’m going to print this out and save it to hand to her on the day she receives her diploma. I love it. Wish my parents had done this to me, I might have made fewer mistakes and grown up a lot quicker.

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  3. says

    I don’t have an adult child, but I’d be interested to know if adding a time-limit to how long the “adult” child can live at home would be beneficial. I think it can be beneficial for both parents and children to allow living at home past 18 for a certain amount of time – but wouldn’t it be detrimental to allow them to stay past a certain age? Not trying to sound judgmental; just adding to the conversation :)

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    • 3bees says

      Its an individualized thing. My parents never put a time limit on us so long as we were contributing and not just mooching. I paid my parents rent from the day I graduated high school. I’ve moved out, had my own family, and because of a divorce and a layoff, am currently staying with my dad, along with my 3 kids. Is it the most ideal situation? Absolutely not. I can’t wait to be back out on my own, but its either this or my kids and I are in some ghetto apartment in a lousy neighborhood where my concern wouldn’t be getting them to do their homework, but whether or not they’re going to be hit with bullets on their way home from the bus. I help out with the bills and do the bulk of the grocery shopping and cooking for all of us.

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      • Charlotte says

        Absolutely! These things should be dealt with on an individual basis determined by individual needs and circumstances. I see nothing at all wrong with your current living arrangements. Helping each other through difficult times is how healthy, supportive and loving families operate. :-)

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  4. Julie says

    I have 2 children 12 and 8. I have said I don’t mind if they move back in after high school, temporarily that is. If you are in school and are passing I am happy to pay your way. If you need to move back in and are not in college you are expected to work and your father and I will work up a plan where you will save money and move out in a certain time period. I would rather them save money to move out then pay me rent. But you will have to pay your own gas and insurance. If you decide to not do either of these well we wish you luck and hope to see you on Sunday for family dinners! I think setting a curfew for “adults”, I put in quotes because really most kids are really more adults in the law’s eyes not in maturity, is silly. If you aren’t passing in school and can’t go back and decide to not work and sit in front of the tv all day; well it won’t be my tv. Work and/or go to school it will be easy sailing.

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    • Jen says

      There comes a time when all kids/young adults must grow up enough to take care of themselves. We wanted our older son to mature enough to do this, but yet he stayed and mooched despite any and all rules, requests, (and eventually – demands) we gave. We ended up moving out of state for a new job opportunity for my husband and told him “you aren’t moving with us” He was 23 at the time. Best decision we made for him! He’s not truly independent, but we are no longer paying his way. And he has matured quite a bit because of it.

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    • says

      I think parents want to get to the point that their children are finally their friends not their dependents. I’m closer to my parents now than I ever was growing up (and we were close then too). I haven’t lived at home since I left for college at 18. The relationship gets stronger because your parents are proud of the person you’ve become and you have a new level of love and respect for your parents because they helped prepare you for life on your own and you finally understand everything they’ve done for you.

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