If you’ve got adult children living at home, you’re not alone. In fact, almost 40% of adult children do. (1) There are a lot of reasons for this: economy, saving for school etc. But the fact is many adult kids are moving back home so we might as well make the best of it. We’ve had our children live with us at various times after adulthood and in all honesty we were happy to do it. But there are certain inherent issues that can crop up with the situation. So we’ve got a few pointers to help save your sanity and keep your relationship intact.
For more tips on relationships read How To Diffuse an Argument. You can also get our free high resolution frame-able quote at the bottom of the post. It comes in two sizes. 5″x7″ and 8″x10″.
It can be difficult drawing the line between our children being kids and being adults. This means as parents it’s easy for us to overstep our bounds on what we should and should not try to control. Just as it can be hard for the parents to view kids as adults, it can also be hard for the kids to get out of “kid” mode where they expect things from you that you’ve always done.
In reality the rules should be simple and logical. Despite the fact that they’ll always be “your babies”, they are adults and deserve the same autonomy any adult should have. However, you are no longer required to take care of them nor do you owe them. They are adults and need to act like it. They are in your home. So you get to call the shots. The key is to make them fair and reasonable.
It’s a great idea to write up a family contract of goals and expectations.
THINGS YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO REQUIRE
- Discuss their goals and the length of the stay before they ever move in and what their plans are. Revisit that discussion every few weeks to make sure things are on track.
- They clean up after themselves. No ifs ands or buts.
- They pitch in on housework.
- Depending on the situation, they contribute financially. If they can’t, they do extra things around the house to compensate.
THINGS YOU DON’T HAVE A RIGHT TO REQUIRE
- What they do outside the home.
- Who their friends are.
- How late they stay out.
- If they go to church.
- What they wear.
Respect them as another adult and don’t try to manipulate or force things on them that you would not force on another adult. By this point in their lives they have decided if they want to go to church, who their friends are, who they date etc. Setting up rules where you overstep your bounds will only harm your relationship.
Your rules should have to do with what affects your home and those in it. If they smoke and you don’t, then they do it outside. And you don’t give them a dirty look or make snide remarks when they do. If they drink and you don’t, you can request they not do it inside. You can also stipulate they may drink in the home but not be intoxicated.
The key is respect for another person’s rights unless it infringes on yours, just as you should do with anyone. If rules are broken, never get angry. Simply reiterate the rules and if they are broken constantly, then calmly explain they must move out. If rules were set ahead of time with consequence it should not be a surprise. Anger only tears relationships apart, so always be respectful and act with integrity.
Treating your kids with love and respect and not judging choices they make will go far to keeping a strong bond of love and trust between you and make living together a lot easier.
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During those sleepless nights as parents, we never saw this person coming out of those troubled times. Nor did we see how close our relationship would be. And though at the time we would have opted out at any given moment, we would not trade any piece of the person she is because of those experiences and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t either.
When I think back on my life it does appear to be the really hard times that I grew and learned from. That seems to be part of the human condition as a quite I once saw validated: “Pain Instructs”. It also seems to be how we learn to be less judgmental. We only put ourselves in another’s shoes when we’ve had to walk in them ourselves. Like I said, on this journey, Roy and I also learned a great deal and became better people. Roy talked about one such lesson in “How I Learned to Never Judge a Book By It’s Cover.” Below are a few of the tips that we attribute to why things turned out so well for all concerned.
Tips for Parents
- Know your kids. Know who their friends are, where they are, what they are studying in school etc.
- Spend at least 15 minutes a day talking with and focusing only on them, without judgement.
- Give unconditional love. No matter what they do you love them, even if you don’t love their actions.
- When you have to discipline do it out of purpose, not anger.
- Shower your kids with love and acceptance every chance you get.
- Do not yell or use physical violence in any situation. Walk away until you can be calm.
- Do not be condescending. Be as logical as you can. And yes, that’s hard to do.
- Never, ever give up.
Our daughter told us in later years that even when things were at their worst she knew we were there for her. It didn’t matter what she had done she could come to us when she needed too. We were her safe haven. This is not about condoning bad behavior. This is about unconditional love for your child. Some of these kids will experience incredibly harsh aspects of life. Knowing that mom and dad are there no matter what they do, will save them.
Obviously there are some serious dangers depending on what your child is doing. All you can do is the best you can to keep them safe. (Roy used to nail her windows shut so she could not get out at night!) The worst can of course happen. But by far the largest portion of these kids grow up without serious damage. Keep that in mind.
Whenever I see a husband and wife’s bedroom done all girly and feminine I always feel kinda bad for the guy. (I’m making an assumption, of course, that most guys would would probably prefer to not be swaddled in pink pastels and lacy things. And if you’re those of you who do… Rock On!) Generally speaking, it seems that a room for a couple should fit both of them.
Now, Roy would let me do whatever I wanted in the bedroom. Wait… let me rephrase that. He’d let me decorate however I wanted. And though I can sometimes lean towards the frilly I try to make this room a place we can both enjoy. Below are some pointers on how to decorate for couples!
For this bedroom I really wanted a bit of a fantasy but didn’t want it to scream “Chick Bedroom!”. So I mulled it over and finally decided what I would do. (Keep in mind this is a rental home.)
- Walls: Cream (They had funky stripes going on.)
- Bedding/Furniture/Curtains/Throw Rugs: Black
- Large vinyl black tree on the wall.
- Black dragonflies on the wall in various spots.
- Quotation on the wall: “I dwell in possibility”
- Twinkle lights on the top of the bookcase.
- Fairy Sculpture, Semi-Nude
- Small Framed Art: Realistic fairies, nude
- Large framed fairy art. (Old frame spray painted.)
- Miscellaneous decor items I already had.
Below is how it all came together. It’s very unique with a bit of magic to it but not girly in anyway. (No one can argue that black is too feminine.) But I LOVE the bold contrast. I chose realistic classy fairy art, no cartoony stuff. Roy likes showing it off to people so I take that as his seal of approval.
Decorating For Couples Pointers
- Sit down and discuss what you’d both like. If your partner doesn’t really care one way or the other your in luck! However putting in touches for them anyway is always meaningful!
- Compromise. For example. I wanted fairies. I used classy black and white nude ones. Both sides covered!
- Use feminine objects but give them masculine colors. (i.e. the fairies)
- Honestly, the most important key is to care about the other person’s opinion and truly want to please them too. Which is pretty much important to any relationship!
Making a room fit two people’s style is not all that difficult it both are willing. All it takes is the desire to do so and a little planning. And maybe a nude fairy or two.
Large artwork of a sleeping fairy I ordered that ironically looks remarkably like me.
Nude fairy art hanging above our bed.
For a little help redoing your own rooms download our FREE ROOM MAKEOVER KIT!
So I leave my husband alone for a day, and what happens? Aliens invade. I realize that begs a bit more of an explanation. I’d been married for 31 years at the time. I was away for the weekend and Roy and our 25 year old daughter Amy who was living with us decided to stage an alien invasion. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall when they were sitting around and came up with that idea. I mean, how does that even get started?
ROY: So honey, what would you like to do this weekend while mom’s away?
AMY: I don’t know… alien invasion?
However it went down, they decided to run with it. It involved, among other things, the creation of a large cardboard alien. Their end game was to email me photographs as proof of said contact from another world. Which they did. (I’m sure after it was all said and done they were high five-ing themselves for pulling it off while I sat in a hotel room thinking my husband and daughter really need to get out more.)
It was only months later as I was going through some photo archives that I found the original untouched versions of their staged invasion that Amy had taken. As I looked through them I realized part of the ruse also involved Roy pitching a mini-trampoline in the air while Amy frantically snapped pictures of it. I can only assume she was going to Photoshop out the legs of the mini-tramp and send it to me as further proof of the mother-ship landing. It must not have worked out as expected because I never got that photo.
The Photos I Received Via Email
Untouched Photos I Uncovered Later
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Since my teenage years I’ve found myself acting as a mediator between family members, friends, business associates, and occasionally even casual acquaintances. How I came to this role stems from when I first used the word “compromise” while trying to negotiate with my dad about growing my hair longer at around the age of 15. I could see his previously harsh opposition to the idea turn into a wry sort of amusement as he asked me what I had in mind. In that instant I discovered that all things in the world are not set in stone. It was a groundbreaking moment in my life!
From that time forward I’ve called upon my mediator talents to help myself and others in a wide variety of circumstances. When people disagree they are usually able to remain civil in tone and action, but there have been times when I was out with friends and a conversation between them suddenly escalated to a full-on argument right in front of me. Though it might be hard to diffuse a situation like this, I’ve developed a few tips or guidelines that may prove valuable whenever you find yourself in need of administering a chill pill during a sticky situation. Here’s a little wisdom you might consider.
I think we all know what it feels like when calmness has left the building! An emotional trigger gets pulled and many times an eruption of some sort usually follows. In the midst of an argument neither side wants to back down especially since they “know” the other side is patently wrong! In fact, one side might clearly be in the wrong or blatantly seeking to harm the other. Usually this is not the case however. Most often, there’s been just one little detail about something that has put them over their “I can handle this” quota. Just because someone has unleashed their internal beast, doesn’t mean that you have to!
Take A Short Time Out
Many times a good place to start is to separate yourself (or them) from the situation for a few minutes so the warring parties can regroup. It’s a good idea to just say something like, “You know, I need a few minutes before we get too heavily into this.” Then use this time to regain your composure and allow your reasoning ability to return. Arguments are highly stressful especially when all your buttons have just been pushed.
We tend to want to just yell, then try to logically make our point, and if it’s not accepted we want to just yell again and force the issue to our favor! So, take a few moments to cool off and get clear.
Listen With Focus
When it’s time to re-engage take a deep breath and LISTEN to the other side. Really listen, and maybe empathize a little. They want you to hear what they’ve got to say just as badly as you’re wanting them to hear your side of things.
Lots of arguments happen because both sides never took the time to listen in the first place. You might actually hear something you didn’t know. Listening is not the same as agreeing but it will certainly allow progress to be made.
Repeat Their Position Back To Them
Do this in your own words and not in a patronizing or belittling way. You’re essentially saying something like, “If I’m understanding you right, you’re saying this…” When you take this approach you’re making sure that you both are understanding the other person’s side of things. This often takes the bite out of an argument because it eliminates each one talking over the other person’s side. It’s also a measure of honesty. Ask them to do the same for you until you both know that you’re repeating each others position the right way.
Identify What You Are In Agreement On
Most of the time, the simple act of listening to each others side and then knowing where you’re in agreement will take all the actual anger out of an argument and allow clearer heads to prevail. If you think about it, most arguments are started over something that has been previously agreed upon. Things like… a set procedure at work, curfew times, homework, or paying a bill.
Let’s look into that just a little closer. If the argument is about a procedural thing, like a detail of your job at work, or hanging pictures in the living room, or anything that has to do with doing a certain thing at a certain time, you might consider whether a minor change in the steps or the timing of it can be adjusted. If the argument is about religion or politics, you might have to agree to disagree. Still, following a few of these steps should take the harshness out of the argument and allow that the other person’s opinions and viewpoints don’t have to match your own.
Negotiate And Compromise When It Makes Sense
You really want to consider your options here. Sometimes you might need to correct an error or change your mind about something, like the timing thing we talked about. Your argument shouldn’t be based upon you winning at all costs. If it’s not a big deal, don’t turn it into one because as surely as you do, you’ll only fan the fire and make it more severe. When you successfully negotiate or compromise you must remember that in doing so it will make things better for both sides. This is not a time to be snarky, condescending, or overly rigid. The mark of a good negotiator or in making a compromise ultimately reflects well on both parties as it does much more than simply restoring normalcy.
If It Needs Time, Give It Some Time
You might get some new information that requires a little thought on your part. Remember, not all things can be fixed in a single conversation. A good decision is to plan a way to resolve it. You may need to get creative, or do something you’ve been putting off for quite some time. Depending on the severity of the argument, you might need to get a third party involved. You might need couples therapy, or anger management. The overriding factor should always be to act on what’s fair and to do it in a reasonable and timely manner.
With my friends, I’ve had to remind them that they’re still friends and even though something might come up from time to time, we can address the issues and move on while friendships remain intact. Sometimes things happen that put us on edge. Most of the time the people around us might not be aware of what the underlying issue is in the first place. It’s usually the small details of something that pushes a person over their limit.
Once you start using these little tips in your relationships, you’ll begin to realize that there’s almost nothing you can’t take on. And you’ll do it with more consideration and integrity. You’ll be happier and you’ll help the arguing parties to be happier. One thing I’m sure you’ll notice for sure. As soon as you know what to do in these circumstances, you’ll get plenty of practice with your new found skills!
If I had to pick one thing that I’d attribute to my ongoing 37 year love affair with my husband, it would be humor. Yes, other traits are just as important, but humor is the thing that sticks out first and foremost to me. It has helped us through some dark times and kept us in a youthful state of mind. Our bond has grown stronger through the years and a big part of that is our ability to laugh at ourselves, each other and to have fun together.
The research is in on the subject: People with a sense of humor have less illness and stress. Laughing releases chemical endorphins into the body that uplift mood, ease pain and reduce blood pressure. It also activates T-Cells which kick in your immune system. Laughter can immediately defuse negative energy in an otherwise tense situation and it keeps our outlook positive by putting things into perspective, which is why it’s so important in relationships.
Rope, Spitwads & Aliens (aka Making Memories)
Silly memories are some of the best. Roy loves to tell the story of when we’d just started dating and I went to his work and tied a huge rope all around his car every direction. That was in 1976. He just told that story again to someone last week! A more recent one he shares is when he was falling asleep in the living room chair while we were talking so I started shooting spit wads at him. Our daughter Amy joined me and by the time he woke he was covered in them. That was 2006.
One of my own memories is from 2008. I was away from home for a couple of days and I got an email from Roy saying that our house had been invaded by aliens. He attached photos to prove it. Read that full story here.
The memories that come from the crazy things couples do for each other can be some of the most powerful because they symbolize the spirit of the relationship. Just thinking about them makes us smile and we love sharing them with others as they prove how much we are loved and how awesome our partner is.
The Time is Now
Before the day is over think of some small thing you can do to make your partner smile or laugh. Below are some suggestions to bring more humor, silliness and fun into your relationship. If you don’t have enough humor in your life, change it! The more you practice and surround yourself with fun and laughter the easier it becomes until its a natural part of your life.
Ideas To Get You Laughing
These suggestions were chosen to encourage having fun and laughing together. NOTE: If any of these things sound way too immature, your totally missing the point.
- Watch funny movies or shows together.
- Watch stand up comedians together.
- Set a goal to share one new joke with each other every week.
- Grab some things in the bookstore humor area and read to each other.
- Have a game night where you play a fun board game together. You can even do it with friends. (Crimes Against Humanity sticks out as a good choice.)
- Be playfully teasing with each other.
- Get over inhibitions and do something silly. Make faces, walk funny, do some slap stick.
- Always look for the humor in a situation.
- Whisper naughty things to your mate that makes them giggle.
- Have a tickle fight.
- Play twister together.
- Hang out with funny friends.
- Learn to laugh at yourself.
- Play a fun video game together. (Roy and I play World of Warcraft.)
- Ride go carts together.
- Do the hokey pokey.
- Go to a park and play on the swings and slide.
- Have a silly string fight.
- Play laser tag.
- Have a water, snowball or pillow fight.
- Act out a scene from a movie.
- Learn to juggle.
- Have a bubble gum blowing contest.
- Have a burping contest.
Humor should NEVER be hurtful. When teasing or jokes are done to embarrass or annoy the purpose has been totally defeated. Always be aware of others and never do things that would make anyone uncomfortable. Be sensitive and use good judgment.
Roy and I tend to have a regular stream of craziness going on at our house. I share many of these on my personal Facebook. So many people have enjoyed and commented on them I decided to create a special Pinterest board entitled Roy Loves Nancy: Our Crazy Life full of our antics. Feel free to drop by!