Over the past few weeks, I have had numerous discussions with different women from different parts of Australia that all shared a common theme; they all had adult children living at home and they were all struggling with the challenges that brings. So I would like to start a dialogue with my readers about this very real issue that is affecting women’s health and share a few tips that I hope help you.
Our roles on any one day, can be many and varied, wouldn’t you agree? Managing our various roles well is important for our health and wellbeing. Managing the role as a parent of adult children needs a careful mix of love, knowledge, equipping and assertiveness.
The research tells us that there are more 18-24 year old young adults living with their parents than there have been in decades. Some experts claim parents who financially support adult children can be inadvertently affecting the adult child’s ability to learn skills needed to manage life themselves. They may also be enabling them to live a lifestyle they ordinarily couldn’t afford, thus nurturing unrealistic expectations in that child.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, “Young adults in 2011 were also more likely than those in 1976 to be living without a partner or child but with one or both of their parents. In 2011, around 29% of young adults lived without a partner or child but with one or both of their parents, up from 21% in 1976.”
It can work well, but setting clear boundaries and good communication is the key. Many families make the situation work well for all parties by doing this.
Some of the challenges are:

  1. Added financial burden, and at a time when parents may be trying to save for a long awaiting trip or consolidate funds for retirement (many are already behind where they want to be financially).
  2. Lack of boundaries. If there have been no discussions around parental expectations of the adult children, then this has the potential to cause problems.
  3. Feeling uncomfortable or restricted.
  4. Lack of role delineation around roles and responsibilities.

Action Tips:

A few suggestions that may assist you to navigate this family situation a little healthier. Pick the ones that sit right for you, or use them as food for thought to create your own…

  1. Set up a monthly allowance that adult children pay into to help pay for bills such as electricity, internet usage, insurance, food. This encourages them to learn responsibility for their own finances. Include a late penalty for late payments.
  2. Set a limit on how long an adult child can live at home rent free whilst job hunting. It can be a great incentive to work hard at finding a job.  Any job in the interim might have to do!
  3. One guideline is to charge 25% of child’s income as rent. This may be reduced if the child is paying off debts or building savings, but ultimately, it needs to be discussed and agreed upon. Parents want to provide a safe haven for children, but also a fair situation for themselves. Aim for a win-win without discouraging the adult child.
  4. Ground rules/house rules: Have a family meeting to jointly decide on some.
  5. Responsibilities/who is expected to do what: Have a family meeting to divide out tasks and responsibilities among all. Make it fair for everyone.
  6. Boundaries: Set healthy boundaries that are firm but flexible. Give each other support. Accept support from each other. Respect each others feelings, needs, opinions and rights, and be clear about your separateness. Be assertive, rather than aggressive or passive. Negotiate and compromise. Be firm about your boundaries when they are not being respected. Be firm, clear, respectful.
  7. Have a regular family discussion about what is working and what needs adjusting to make things work better.