Many of us remember when we couldn’t wait to get out! “When I turn 18, I’m out of this place” was our mantra. But now the kids are back at home and retirement fun is fading into the bustle of a family era you thought you saw in the rear-view mirror. Your home furnishings are shifting. You’ve seen your recently designed hobby room become their kid’s room and/or the guest room has been transformed into a mini bachelor pad. Did I mention spouses too? There has been a 51% rise in returning offspring from a decade ago. Offspring is looking like another of the many old fashioned descriptive words that no longer ring true. How can you miss them if they won’t leave?
If we lived in a 10,000-square foot home with guest quarters, like the Ewing’s, it would be different. But most of us live in modest homes that were barely big enough for the hormone changes we endured while coaxing them “from crayons to perfume”. We endured the teenage wasteland, the smells of teen spirit, the tears and tantrums…. Because that was the way to the promised land. The land where we got to get our groove back, kick up our heels and plan to see the world. But no!
Now the water bill has tripled, the electricity bill is so high it arrives HOT and you’re afraid to open the gas bill because it might explode. Did I mention division of labor?
All the times you did the chores, so they could study or practice their sport… because it was easier than fighting, and you let them win anyway. Can you guess who’s still doing the chores?
Then there are the grandchildren. You love them to the moon and used to love when they visited. But then they also went home, to their own home. Now you wake up with them in your bed, where you didn’t sleep well because you had a foot in your back or you had to calm a runny nose or a persistent cough. Your hallway is now a minefield of skates, shoes and dolls and you have nearly broken a limb or twisted an ankle dodging the flotsam followed by the colorful expression of your most creative language, that leaves your children glaring at you. They also glare when you mention parenting methods.
Did I mention you heard someone having sex in your house? Not just at night, and not just in the room they have taken over. You wonder about birth control. You remember thinking you would like to have sex anyplace in your home, when the kids were gone…. You think about what your mother would say. You can hear her….and it’s not pretty.
You did little league, play dates, parent teacher conferences, field trips, private tutors, proms, and even advised them about “that type of person” not to date. Now they are married, or divorced, from that person. You are starting to think advice, rather than strictly enforced rules with consequences, may have sparked this malaise. Parenting is hard, but we wanted to do it differently than our parents did. Remember, those irritating answers like; “because I said so, because that’s the rule, I make the rules, not until you finished… fill in the blank, etc etc. Did I mention they may have been on to something?
Now you have begun to experience some unexpected health issues. High blood pressure, TMJ (maybe due to gritting
your teeth), headaches from wondering where the 2 year-old is, headaches from finding out where the 2 year-old is. You have avoided violence thus far, but your dreams are becoming increasingly graphic. You’re losing weight, mostly because the refrigerator has been decimated. Even the frozen soy beans in the freezer have disappeared. Do they have no shame?
Can you have imagined moving back into your parents’ house? We wouldn’t have dared! They didn’t make it that comfortable when we were there, and the message of our use by expiration date was clear. It wasn’t even a broachable subject. We knew leaving was a one-way ticket with no return fare. They were tough, and their expectation for our success was unwavering. We respected their hard work and dedication to teaching us how to live our lives. Sometimes the old ways are the old ways for a reason. But, secretly, we thought we had a different answer for our kids….. Coddling.
So, what’s the answer?
I can only provide my opinion in retrospect. But here goes; Stop enabling. Say No and stick to it. Don’t debate a requirement. Set real time limits for chore completion. Expect and support academic endeavor. Communicate schedules and responsibilities. Be understanding, not a door mat.
Ok, Ok, but what about those grown kids living at your house? Explain to them they have now entered the NEW WORLD COMMUNE and you are the leader of this new community. Every community requires order, and a leader, and you are it! Great change requires great sacrifice. Great change brings great reward!
First, set an amount of money that will pay every month. Have them sign a rental agreement with terms for eviction. Next, there are chores! Write them down and have them sign an agreement for completion. More people, more duties, more to get done. Remember, they are messing with your zen. If they are doing the wild thing in your house, just say NO. Those noises should be coming from your room, a space reserved for adults with their own place! If they don’t have jobs…. Did I mention the words “indentured slave”?
By this time, your indentured slave should be thinking…. “I need to leave”. Good! Your plan is working!
If all of this is still not helping junior find the door, start walking around butt naked with a clown face, while friends are visiting. Or, turn on porn in your room with the sound up. Kids can’t stand to think their parents have sex. They will be horrified and realize it’s better to get roommates than deal with a parent on the verge of mental breakdown. Plus, its good practice for when you really do lose your mind.