Adult Children Coming Home Don’t Break these 9 Rules of Engagement!
Have you ever needed to provide temporary housing to your adult children?
Living in a full house can be a wonderful experience and also a very challenging time. I am describing a situation when your adult child and their family move in under the same roof and have different – read as unique – parenting ideas that may seem foreign to you!
For me, this time came when my son and his wife, a 9-year-old grandson, 7-year-old granddaughter and a 2-month-old grandson, along with a smelly old dog, moved in with us while they searched for new housing in our area.
Here are some of the interesting new rules that were implemented so that we would reduce opportunities for conflict:
Don’t Parent the Grandkids
We – meaning me – were not to parent the grandkids, including making comments about my son and daughter-in-law’s parenting.
Set a Time Limit
Set a reasonable time limit on finding a new place and helping with the move. Ours was 3 months, and by that time it was either them or me!
Provide Private Space
Allow separate space for both sides of the family to have private time. Our bedroom was only by invitation, and I had a room in the basement where I could watch the news or have my own space.
The main area of the house was considered ‘common area.’ That included the kitchen, family room and dining room. The kids had the full run of the upstairs and we (me) did not go up there without invitation.
My son and his wife had to buy their own groceries and cover their normal living expenses. We provided housing and the utilities. They needed a separate place for their food, so having a designated area in the pantry and fridge was important. Especially for me, as I have a tendency to eat whatever I find in the fridge.
Keep it Clean
Household cleanliness was very important. Here again they were responsible for the upstairs and had to clean up after food prep and do dishes for themselves. We did eat together, occasionally, but they had very different eating schedules and diets for the kids.
They didn’t limit it to organic but, also, no sugars, no seasoning, no anything that would make food taste good! Frozen ice on a stick was a treat. This is another area that you do not want to comment about regardless of what you think. Keep it to yourself!
Set Boundaries on Babysitting
Fortunately, my son’s family were not staying with us during the school year, so my teacher daughter-in-law was not working full time but only tutoring a few hours a week. We did pitch in and take care of the kids when needed.
I think that babysitting needs to be discussed in advance. Depending upon circumstances, the amount of day care or babysitting is an individual choice. My only comment would be, what will they be doing once they have their own place?
I would strongly suggest that you not interject yourself into their arguments. This can only lead to an opportunity for more conflict and perceptions of taking one side or the other.
Enjoy the Grandkids
This shared living arrangement can be an opportunity to learn from the grandkids and share new ideas with them. We read their books together, played monopoly, card games and, of course, my two older grandchildren could run circles around me on the computer.
But, it was nice to share my interest in identifying all of the different birds that came to our feeders and the kids enjoyed helping me refill them. We also liked taking walks in the woods or going down to the river and finding all kinds of interesting things together.
My wife loves doing embroidery/vinyl press and had the kids work with her on their own designs. Then she put the designs onto tee shirts for them. My grandson had a Boardwalk property card on one and then his own creation of a character on another. My granddaughter designed a unicorn for her shirt.
Overall, it has been a very pleasing experience. Those of us blessed to have grandkids know that they are ‘pure love’ and not much else can beat having one or more jump in your lap and hug you like they want to be part of you.
Even so, I am ready for them to be a short distance away in their own home. I am just not built for the amount of energy they have and found that I needed to take more naps on weekends from just watching them in constant motion.
Have you ever had family move in with you for a temporary stay? How did it go for you? Please share the experience in the comments below.