Ingenio Category: Family Coaching
So your teen has gone off to college, and last spring, perhaps even to your own prideful - almost incredulous wonderment - they returned home with their degree! Now though, it's 6 months later and like millions of other young adults today, they are back at home. As a young adult, they are their own person and they are making their own decisions. We of course love our children, but sometimes those decisions do not fit in well with the over-all peace of the family - and it's affecting your household!
What do we do?
Do we listen to our eager-to-offer-advice friend and 'toss 'em out of the nest'? Or, do you allow them to do whatever they want... because, of course, as we all know from our teenager's repeated reminders - our life is for serving our children's every whim?
First, do not despair! You and your family are not alone. Recent trends show that, for a variety of reasons, an increasing number of families are sharing homes with older, and more, and more often, younger generations.Internationally, many cultures make room for extended family living arrangements, but for each individual family, this custom's return to the U.S. can make for difficult adjustments. The number one key to unlocking the solutions to whatever problem that arises is... COMMUNICATION!
For the heads of the household, the foremost important action is to set down, and communicate reasonable guidelines for what is considered acceptable behavior. These can be as open and basic, or as complicated as necessary for our family. But keep in mind that the goal of such expectations is to foster an environment where every member of the household can thrive.
Too strict and we may cause long-lasting rifts. Too lenient and more than one person may suffer. Finding the right 'happy medium' will be different for every family, and for every age group. There will always be unforeseen issues that arise from time to time, so do not be afraid to keep the terms open ended. Remember - the key is an atmosphere of communication!
Many families find that assigning chores, expectations of rent or contributions to shared bills, and establishing the presumption that each family member takes personal responsibility for their use of shared spaces - especially the kitchen or bath - is extremely important for avoiding confrontations and promoting harmony in even the largest of houses.
Is asking them (or in some cases, telling them) to leave an option? Well, that will be up to each individual family. Each person's personal understanding of moral behavior, and each person's capacity for respect will vary greatly. Keeping your cool, and discussing the circumstances with everyone involved, will help you make balanced decisions. Try not to act from the emotion of the moment, and remember that not everyone will live up to our standards, but also make sure that respect and consideration for other household members is not taken lightly.
Our children sometimes disappoint us, but being allowed to make mistakes and learn from them, is an important step toward maturity. There may come an issue or an event from which a member of the family must 'reap their own consequences,' or even find their own way. If we react calmly and with the wisdom of thoughtful consideration, we can each make decisions that continue to foster family growth - even if that eventually means separate households. So, should we be ashamed, or feel guilty that our growing children still find it necessary or advantageous to live at home? No. In fact, when handled properly, such arrangements can be beneficial for everyone involved!
Every family must decide what is best for their own situation, but if we remember that the goal is to do what is best for those closest to us, keep an open line of communication, and to share the best and worst of times... as a family... we can succeed!