Every family has a different dynamic. What works for some could be a disaster for others. As such, not every one of our rules for an adult child living at home will be a fit for everyone. But they’re a good starting point. Take what works and leave the rest.
Table of Contents
- 1 1. Chore Delineations
- 2 2. Food Arrangements
- 3 3. Respect Above All Else
- 4 4. Working People Pay Rent
- 5 5. The “Overnight Guest” Rule
- 6 6. Don’t Share a Bathroom
- 7 7. Establish Quiet Hours
- 8 8. Declare Television Rights
- 9 9. Determine A Cohabitation Timeline
- 10 10. Be Communicative
- 11 11. Remember You’re a Family, Not Roommates
- 12 12. Tell the Truth
- 13 13. Replace What You Finish
- 14 14. Create a Check-In Policy
- 15 15. Hold Monthly Meetings
1. Chore Delineations
If you want to live in a clean place that runs smoothly, delineate chores for adults living at home.
Grown children are not above pitching in and doing chores. Frankly, it’s the only polite and respectful way to go.
Be careful, however, not to put everything on your kids’ shoulders. That’s a bit unfair, too. But splitting the domestic workload makes sense. Having an extra pair of hands around gives you more free time to indulge in your hobbies.
If you’re taking in a senior parent, though, they’ve earned a “get out of chores free” card. Unless they want to do stuff, don’t force them.
2. Food Arrangements
How will food work? Is it every person for themselves? Or will you share cooking responsibilities? Who pays for the food? Will you split weekly grocery bills, or will everyone shop for the nights they’re cooking?
Food is a big topic in a home full of adults. Make sure you hash it out in advance; that way, everyone knows what’s expected of them.
Does anyone have allergies? If so, be mindful of dishes that you cannot make in the kitchen. You don’t want to send someone into anaphylactic shock over some peanuts. Moreover, if religious or dietary laws are already in place, the person moving in must respect those.
3. Respect Above All Else
Adults living together need to respect one another. Yes, the person moving back in is your “child,” but that doesn’t mean you can control them like minors. Everyone must be willing to acknowledge their family members’ autonomy.
That doesn’t mean anything goes. But neither can you carry on like they’re 12 years old.
The same goes for kids taking in a parent. Yes, they may be using diapers again and need help making food, but they’re still adults who can make their own decisions and enjoy a safe amount of autonomy.
4. Working People Pay Rent
Every gainfully employed person in a household should contribute to expenses. It’s the fundamentally right thing to do.
Plus, since costs are split, in theory, everyone should be able to save more money. Beyond the money issue, resentment is curbed when everyone pays their fair share.
5. The “Overnight Guest” Rule
Overnight guests can be a sticking point when it comes to parent-and-adult-child cohabitation. Nobody wants to think about their family members’ sex lives.
It’s not unusual for parents to make a “no overnight guests” rule. We’re not debating whether that’s right or wrong.
It is what it is, and adult children moving back into their parents’ homes need to accept what mom or dad decides on this front.
Hotels are always an option for intimacy if overnight guests are a no-go.
If possible, use separate bathrooms. It’s better for everyone’s health — mental and physical. There’s not much more to say than that. The reasons are self-evident.
7. Establish Quiet Hours
Establishing quiet hours is wise. That way, everyone’s bedtime is respected, and having a set routine helps prevents arguments.
Of course, there will be times when flexibility is needed and appreciated, but try to discuss any changes ahead of time.
8. Declare Television Rights
Is there only one large-screen television in the house? If so, you may want to set up a schedule for it. That, or the person moving in must get a set for their room.
9. Determine A Cohabitation Timeline
How long will you be living together? Some people like to set an exact date. Others are fine working with milestones (i.e., you find a new job and save X amount of dollars), whether it takes one year or five.
You may want to revisit this decision a few months into cohabitation. Sometimes, it takes living together to see how it works out.
You may loathe it and feel the need to accelerate the time frame. Or, who knows, you all may find that you love living together and make the arrangement indefinite.
10. Be Communicative
Bottling emotions is a recipe for disaster. Brushing things under the proverbial carpet only breeds resentment. Living with parents or adult children takes maturity and open communication.
To that end, make it a rule. Sometimes, it’ll be difficult to voice your concerns and gripes. But keep at it. After a time, clearing the air will become second nature.
11. Remember You’re a Family, Not Roommates
Technically, yes, you’re roommates. But it’s a different dynamic than roommates you’re not related to. It makes sense to factor your history and closeness into the rules unless you’re the type of family who wants to think of each other as roommates. But generally speaking, no other people on the planet have significantly impacted your life as much as your family.
So the situation may require a gentler touch. Plus, the boundaries will be a bit different than regular roommates.
12. Tell the Truth
Don’t start lying to each other. Sure, a little white fib here and there to keep the peace is perfectly acceptable.
But prevaricating about big things could lead to a massive fight and falling out. You owe each other the truth. Besides, honesty mitigates drama, and it really is the best policy.
13. Replace What You Finish
If you finish the communal milk, juice, pasta sauce, or whatever the case may be, replace it as soon as possible. Moreover, when it happens, let your family know ASAP.
You’d be surprised how many knock-down, drag-out fights are rooted in kitchen cohabitation conflicts. Avoid an argument by being detail-oriented about kitchen use and fridge status.
14. Create a Check-In Policy
Nobody ever stops being their parents’ children. It even persists after death. And as such, you’ll probably worry about each other more.
So it’s kind to establish a check-in policy. You don’t need to reveal every detail of your whereabouts. But it’s nice to let your folks know you’re fine if you don’t come home when expected.
And parents, this applies to you, too. If you’re out later than anticipated, give your kid a call and let them know. Don’t forget, they’re adults now, too — and worry as much as you.
15. Hold Monthly Meetings
It’s helpful to have a monthly meeting. It’s a time to make adjustments, fill each other in on any significant scheduling changes, or air any grievances.
Do it over a meal to make the occasion more relaxed and friendly.
At first, the idea of a monthly family meeting may sound overly regimented. But many folks grow to love these times together.