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In the case of my ex-wife and I, having two adults in our home happened somewhat abruptly. My son had left for his two year LDS mission almost immediately upon turning 18. He then returned just as our daughter was turning 18 herself. Suddenly we had two 18+ year old young adults in our homes almost overnight.

I’m sure we aren’t the only parents unsure of how to handle this unique life milestone.  It was clear that our expectations did not match those of our children. But, how do you most effectively pivot and start treating your own children as adults while still  providing and caring for them under your roof?

We put our thoughts on paper and later arranged to review these expectations with our two adult kids as a united team over lunch. Only one other time in the 11 years since we divorced have my ex-wife and I actually sat together during a meal, but we took them out to eat and presented a united front with our list. That meeting alone was a pretty remarkable feat in our post marriage history.

Our lunch went well, and tonight as I was sharing this story with some friends they asked if I would share the list of expectations that we developed. Here it is:

divorce

 

Living at Home as Adults

We want you around!  It’s exciting having adult children and we want to point out things that may seem insignificant but that make a big difference when living with others. They’ll help you in marriage and family life too.

Here are some specific ways you can prepare for being successful independent adults and help us all to avoid misunderstandings while still living under the safety net of your parents’ homes.

  • You are old enough to stay at either house but we will assume you are following the younger kids’ schedule unless told otherwise. You can change your regular schedule but let us know. Even though you are adults, we want you to have some sort of accountability to us so that someone always knows where you are in case of an emergency. We’re asking for communication, not saying you have to ask permission.

  • If you are going to be out after midnight, let us know where you are and when/if you will be home that night. Let us know if you are going to be home for dinner or not.

  • As adults in the house, we expect you to treat your siblings with kindness and respect, and help out around the house without being asked.  Do chores each week by your own doing, not being told and not getting paid to do it.

  • You should have a full-time job and/or be in school.

  • What we will pay for:

    • Housing, food, household items, toiletries, and other items we choose to help out with.

    • As much schooling as possible at the time. (Mom & Dad will split what each can) You should plan to contribute what you can.

    • Car insurance until 22, graduation, or marriage. (Mom & Dad will split)

    • Half of car repairs until 22, graduation or marriage. (Mom & Dad will split)

  • You will be responsible for the following:

    • Gas

    • Clothing

    • Entertainment

    • Personal care items

    • Any other luxury or necessity items you desire

    • Paying back debts to us consistently without missing a payment and before your own luxuries or entertainment. (We should not be the source of side jobs if you are short paying us. If your job isn’t able to cover the gaps perhaps you need a different job.)

    • Starting some sort of savings no matter how small for emergencies (This is a form of paying yourself)

    • Paying for your own fines and tickets and other emergencies

  • Show respect of being an adult living with other adults and siblings

    • Clean up after yourself – Kitchen, bathroom

    • Clean up after your friends. You and friends are welcome to eat our food and spend time in our home but things should be cleaner when you’re done. If you dirty some dishes, put those AND the ones in the sink into the dishwasher and start it.

    • Turn out lights, lock doors if you’re the last one in at night.

    • Clean up even messes that others make when you notice them.

    • Talk not SHOUT no matter how upset you may be in the moment.

    • Buy some earplugs if your schedule differs from the rest of the house.

If these things are not being done, what should the consequences be?

Once you have reached 22 years of age, you should be self sufficient and should have a plan to launch if you haven’t already.  If still in school, we will evaluate and come up with a plan. At that time you should plan on paying for your own: Car insurance, phone service, rent, food, emergencies and car payments and repairs.

Love,

Mom and Dad

 

 

In full disclosure, we haven’t really come up with a substantial consequence if they don’t live up to these expectations. Short of kicking them out, there isn’t much leverage to enforce anything. Maneuvers such as withholding cars or phone service become burdens for us, the parents. For them to live up to our expectations of jobs and schooling, they need the cars and phones. They both seem to have the natural desire for more independence and freedom, so I expect that we’re never going to get to that point anyway.

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