4 Rules for 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

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