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We asked Lesley Lacny, a chartered psychologist based in Toronto, for some tips on how to navigate living with your adult children. She shares some tips to help make the transition easier for everyone involved.
1. Set living expectations
If your child decides to move back home as an adult, be prepared to change your expectations of him. What you expected from your children when they were teenagers may vary greatly from what you expect from them as adults living in your home. Although you are still the parent, the dynamics of your relationship will need to change.
"It can be easy to fall back into old relationship patterns. So set clear expectations and boundaries and be proactive about managing your changing relationship and roles," says Lacny. "This will help decrease conflict, pre-empt any surprises and prevent resentment that can build from parents feeling taken advantage of or from an adult child feeling restricted in his freedom."
2. Communicate with your child
As a parent, you may find it difficult to shake the habit of considering your child an adolescent. When your children were younger, you were accustomed to focusing on their needs, explains Lacny, but this must change to some degree as adults. So be sure to establish strong, open communication from the beginning and to listen to what your child has to say. "It is important to be empathetic to your adult child's experiences and to listen to their perspectives and opinions," she says.
Page 1 of 2 -- Discover the importance of understanding why your child has moved back in with you on page 2.
3. Understand why your child has moved back home
It's important to establish why your adult child wants to move home -- and what her plan is moving forward. But finding the balance between being supportive and enabling her can also be tricky.
"It can be difficult to navigate that fine line between enabling and support, and it is important to be sure that you are not doing your child's work for her," says Lacny.
"Making things too comfortable at home may contribute to decreasing her motivation to get out on her own, but being too militant can create unnecessary strain on your relationship," she warns.
"Finding the right balance can be challenging. However, it can be achieved by being plain and clear before the move and by maintaining open communication," she says.
4. Be prepared to set boundaries
When living with your child again -- or anyone for that matter -- setting boundaries is a must. Lacny suggests asking your child particular questions: "Discuss each other's expectations of how long he will be home. Is this a temporary arrangement or a more long-term one?" asks Lacny. "The more honest you are with each other the smoother your relationship will be."
"Speak openly about what each of your goals are and, if they are aligned, how each person can contribute to supporting the end goal," she advises. "If your goals do not align, it is better to know this before the move has occurred so that guidelines and boundaries can be put in place." Also establish what your expectations are for your child's contributions to the general maintenance of the household, or what his financial contributions will be.
5. Find ways to connect and bond with your child
There are always issues to sort through when it comes to living with anyone, but having your child move home can also be beneficial for your relationship.
"Having your adult child at home provides an opportunity to enhance your relationship as adults," says Lacny. "Look for ways to connect and be involved in your child's life and take advantage of the opportunity to guide your child as he navigates his way through adulthood."
With a little planning, living together again can be a good thing for the parent-child relationship -- as long as boundaries are established and communication remains open. Remember to be supportive, but be careful about encouraging your child to remain under your roof for too long. Help your child set a goal -- whether it is employment, eliminating debt or finding a new living situation -- and work together as a family to achieve it.
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