What should you do if you have an adult child who thinks that they are all grown up but keeps lapsing into childish behaviours? It can be difficult to know what the issue is. If you treat them like a child does this encourage them to behave like one? Or, do they fall into the safety net of childhood because they are not ready to take the leap into full adulthood. When your child turns 18 they no longer require hands-on care. You need to empower them to grow up. Examine your behaviour. Are you enabling them to act like a child? As a parent your ultimate goal is to support your child to grow up and become a responsible adult.
Here are ’10 ways to’ support an adult child who lives with you to mature into a responsible adult:
- Firstly, ask yourself are you too involved in your adult child’s life. Are you still calling them in the mornings? Are you still doing all the cooking? Are you still asking them to tidy up? Are you still telling them what to do? Are you commenting on what they watch? Are you commenting on their friends or relationships? Are you commenting on what they wear? If you answered yes to most of these then I would suggest that you are too involved in your adult child’s life.
- If your adult child needs to continue to live with you, past the age of 18, then it is important to put some ground rules in place. To some extent you can treat your adult child like a roommate now and not like your child. Agree some principles of sharing a home – keep them simple – base them around respect and love.
- Paying rent is crucial, even if it is only a small amount. Agree on the use of space. Agree on the use of materials in the home, such as TV, computers and the washing machine. Agree on a roster of cooking and buying groceries.
- If you are parenting a younger child and have an adult child living with you it is really important to have an environment of harmony for the child. Try not to allow your relationship with your adult child impact negatively on your younger child. You are the only one who can protect their environment.
- Younger siblings usually hugely admire their older adult siblings. Living with them can help them develop close, long lasting and meaningful relationships. If you can have a positive relationship with your adult child your younger child will benefit too.
- Ask them to respect the needs of their younger siblings but do not expect your adult child to be a parent to their siblings. Of course they will look out for them and spend time with them but they will not be interested in babysitting, school pickups and homework. This is your role as a parent. Often we expect too much parenting support from our young adult children.
- If you feel you and your adult child are at the battle gates all the time, try to sit with them and tell them how much you love them. Talk about the fun things you did when they were little. Talk about what they are doing now and what their plans are. Talk with them about how you would like to support them in the next few years to reach their goals.
- Tell your adult child if you need some support from them. Talk to them like an adult, stop talking to them like a child. Think it out and communicate in a clear and direct way. No threats! You cannot discipline them.
- Make a date with your adult child every other week and check in with them. Do not expect that they will check in with you each day. Trust that they are doing okay. You can text them whenever you want but sending a text should not mean you have to get one back. Respect their privacy and ask them to respect yours.
- Be honest if it is not working and set a timeline for them to move out. Move into a new chapter of parenting. Let go. It is not about control. It is about loving and being there for each other.
This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.