Adult kids still at home? Helping your recent graduate stay (or leave) with grace
Your child has capped, gowned and posed for the photos -- but isn't leaving. Can your adult kids live in your home and still grow up? Here's how to protect family relationships while helping your graduate either stay or go.
Annie's parents recently made a list of what was expected of everyone in the home to make family living workable — family living in this case meaning several related adults sharing the same space.
They called the list the Annie Carta Libertatum._ Those who didn't snooze through history or have current access to a decent search engine know that this is Latin for "Annie's Charter of the Liberties."
Annie is the resident baby-of-the-family of otherwise go-getters. She is a recent high school graduate and considers herself an adult — a popular notion among graduates. She wants to do what adults do.
Her view of "adult living" is having her food, room and board paid for, Mom doing her laundry and Dad letting her use his computer. Annie has free shot at the car, and her part-time job money goes towards clothes and music for her iPod.
While Annie lives the dream, Annie's parents are newly frustrated at the prospect that they may be required to continue the level of care for their daughter that they have provided for 18 years.
It's a common dilemma. Recent reports state that adult children aren't leaving home like they once did. They are continuing to live with Mom and Dad well into their 20s and 30s.
Is Annie entitled to what is now becoming the new and extended adolescence? "Happy graduation, honey! Here's your freebie — good for the next 10 years."
Short answer is, no, she is not. However, it's not the freebie issue that is the real problem. Annie's problem may be that she hasn't yet dampened her feet without being scalded by some really hot water.
And to top that, Annie may not know where she fits in as a member of a brand-new-but-same-ol' household. Odds are that she will be motivated to get a job or go to school or both. However, she may choose to remain in the home as … what?
Is Annie a friend? A house guest? A roommate? In many regards ... yes. Take the relationships out of the equation and Annie is a family member that is sharing space. A froommate.
The recent graduate (or the not-recent graduate) living at home may feel helpless, and there are many factors that contribute to those feelings. Odds are that Annie has received the message that nothing she has to contribute will have any impact.
A parent's job at this point is to stop the bleeding — plug the hole, control the damage — by showing her the direct impact of her decisions. Those who take ownership feel responsible even on a small scale. And a responsible person is more apt to act more and float less.
Try letting Annie paint her bedroom wall, with the following short list of guidelines.
There is this amount of money to spend; there is no more.
The color chosen will need to remain on the wall for a specified period of time.
Precautions need to be taken to not impact the rest of the room (spilling or dripping).
The job will need to be completed by (have Annie pick the date and the time-table).
(The paint is not important to Annie's future, except as a map; how Annie does anything is how she does everything.)
Does Annie have a problem committing to a color or a time-table? Does she jump right in and then get discouraged by a minor issue or get halfway done and lose interest? Does she care enough to make a change?
How about you? Can you live with her color? If she doesn't brush with the "correct" brush stroke, do you roll your eyes and say, "Fine – do it your own way"? When the job is done, do you find fault with it? If you do not like it, do you re-do it "the right way"? When she is done, do you get off of the couch to go see it and compliment her on her effort?
In order for parents to help Annie get motivated about school, a job and life outside the family residence they will need to give up some control and discontinue pointing out their expectations for Annie. Allowing Annie to try to do things her way will foster pride in what she chooses to do and in her ability to do it.
Another task: Have Annie look around to see what needs to happen rather than assigning out a specific chore. Nothing will get Annie off of the couch and onto her toes like discovering for herself something that needs to be done and then doing it.
Hopefully, Annie is home because she feels your love and has chosen to live with you. Now, help her to feel capable as well as loved. Sit down with her and empower her to create her own Annie Carta Libertatum.Then watch her claim her own liberty and personal power and transition from daughter to froommate to whatever she chooses.