Young Adults (18 years+)
Your child is now considered to be an adult in the eyes of society and the law. However, as we have discussed in earlier sections her brain will not be fully matured until she is in her early to mid twenties. This leaves parents of young adults in somewhat of a conundrum. Young adults are also increasingly spending more time in the family home before leaving school. In Luxembourg it is not unusual for students to finish secondary school as late as 21 years old. With rising costs for Higher Education and the price of living, continuing to live in the family home may be the only option for young adults. Even if parents are not ready for their children to ‘fly the nest’ there are some important decisions to be discussed regarding the possible changing dynamics of more adults in the household.
In this section we will discuss some guidelines to help parents think about the changing needs of their family as adolescents move into adulthood.
(Re) Setting the Boundaries
You may or may not have already discussed as a family what your expectations are of living together under the same roof. These expectations will most probably have changed on the journey through childhood into the teenage years and beyond. If you already have some clear ‘House Rules’ for the family it is easier to adapt these along the way. An obvious time of change and opportunity to rethink these rules is when your child finishes Secondary Education. However, as some young adults (18+years) are still in education you may want to think of another arbitrary time to have this discussion. Having ‘House Rules’ does not necessarily mean ‘laying down the law’, as we have discussed in earlier ‘Rites of Passage’. Creating rules or principles of how you would like to live together is actually a really important learning opportunity because you are teaching them important life skills for their future. A future spouse or partner may thank you!
This of course presumes that you want your child eventually to be able to live independently. As the saying goes ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for a day’.
Teaching your Young Adult How to Fish
If you haven’t started already you may want to think of this time as a transition between providing the fish (food, clean laundry, internet, money to buy latest fashion – ‘have to have or I’ll die’– fad) and teaching him to fish for himself. Like an apprentice fisherman he will not learn it all in one day. The trick is to start early and build up their understanding and skills. By the time they reach young adulthood they should really be contributing to the household regularly using these skills. So when they do eventually leave home and come back with their dirty laundry or for mum’s (or dad’s) cooking you can laugh and enjoy feeding them up all over again. Because adult children generally do not just decide one day they are going out into the world to make their fortunes like the Three Little Pigs. If their straw house blows down they’ll be back. For more about teaching Life Skills see our Resources section.
House Rules or Principles
You may want to sit down with your partner or another trusted adult first to think about what you want to include in your rules. Here are a few questions you might like to think about:-
- What are your expectations about your child’s contribution to the household? If they are working do you expect them to pay rent or something towards their keep? Do they have particular jobs or chores? Are there consequences if they do not do their agreed tasks?
- Do you pay your Adult Child an allowance? Do they need to do anything towards the household to receive this allowance? Do you pay for the Internet, personal Telephone Charges (contracts) or Netflix for them? Do they understand about the hidden extras you provide?
- Do you have expectations about when they should be home at night? Or up and out of bed in the morning? Or stay in their room all day? Do you have family routines you want them to be a part of ? Are you happy to be merely a base (hotel) for your adult child?
- How do you feel about your child having a boyfriend/girlfriend over to stay? How would you organise the sleeping arrangements? What would you tell younger siblings? Do you feel your adult child is informed enough to make responsible decisions about sex and relationships?
- How do you feel about alcohol or drug use under your roof? Do you feel that your child is informed enough to make responsible decisions about alcohol and drug use?
- Is there anything in particular you feel strongly about ‘not happening under your roof’? Have you discussed this openly with the family? Do you think they understand your point of view?
- Are you realistic about your expectations? Is there one rule for you and another for your young adult child? What about siblings or a similar age?
- Is your child getting all their needs met by you? Is ‘home’ just too comfortable to leave? How do you feel about that?
After this discussion, and when you are clear about your own thoughts and feelings about this, then it is time to organise a family meeting to discuss this. To get the most out of this process it is a good idea to approach it in a problem solving or solution focused way. This means you ask all the family what they think the new or improved rules or principles should be. Everyone gets a go and all ideas are noted down without judgment. Then when everyone has had their say (and you have included all your prior thoughts) you start to eliminate the principles that you don’t want to include. The end process is set of rules or principles that everyone has had a say in. Therefore are most likely to be adhered to and can be referred back to at any time.
Watch this Space for…
In this section we will go on to discuss over the coming months how you can help your Young Adult to: look for a job or apply for Higher Education; make a contribution to the household; cars and driving; and preparing them and yourself for when they do eventually leave home.
Further Information: Useful Links
Mutual Living Agreement for over 18’s
A sample document to download and use from the Empowering Parents website.
Article by: Lynn Frank who is a coordinator for Passage.
Last updated: Tuesday 30th May, 2017