After reading what I have to say, you may think a little differently.
According to Pew Research there’s a whole lot more 18-34 year olds living at home than ever before. While there are lots of
excuses reasons given; poor job market, college degrees harder to come by, and a myriad of other things, I ‘d like to point out that one of the biggest problems may not be all the outside issues– what if the biggest problem is us and how we look at our 18 year old?
Like every great story, ours begins over coffee…
Let’s begin our story in the back corner of my favorite coffee house. It was packed (as usual) and I was sitting entirely too close to women who were talking about their kids:
“Why do you look so tired?”
“Jacob got in late last night.”
“How late is late?”
“I heard him get in around 1am. But, I’m a wreck if I wake up and he’s not in home.”
“So, what time will he get up this morning?”
“Morning? Your’re funny. He usually gets up around noon. I’ve asked him over and over to be home at a decent hour –to wake up at a decent hour but what can I do? He’s eighteen.”
Have you ever said these words before?
“What can I do? She’s 18.” or “What can I do? He’s 24.”
If these words have escaped your lips then just imagine me gently putting my arm around your shoulder and viciously shaking you back and forth.
When a parent says there’s nothing they can do, what they’re really saying is, “I don’t know what to do.” Or, “I don’t have the guts to do what I need to do.”
The 18 Year Old Myth
Myth: My child is over 18. They’re an adult.
Fact: Age never makes a child an adult. Responsibility makes a child an adult.
- 18 means my child is now an adult in the eyes of the state.
- 18 means civilly and criminally they can be tried as adults.
- 18 means they now go to the county jail instead of juvenile hall.
- 18 means they can vote.
- 18 means they can get married without a parent’s permission.
- 18 means they can sign binding contracts, like credit cards, student loans or car loans. Basically, they now have the opportunity to create their own financial hurricane.
18 does NOT mean:
- 18 does not mean they get a later curfew. As a matter of fact, if you’re raising an adult they should have a job on the weekends. Yes. A JOB. How else can they pay for their super-dilly-deluxe iPhone 7?
- 18 does not mean they are treated as equals in your home…unless they’re paying part of the mortgage.
- 18 does not mean they no longer have household chores.
- 18 does not mean they get to watch/listen to adult movies/music in your home.
- 18 does not mean they have a right to make decisions that put burdens on you in your home.
Just because you have an eighteen year old in your home doesn’t mean all the rules change. Don’t buy that for a hot second.
Here’s what we tell our kids. “Turning 18 doesn’t mean you get all the benefits of adulthood without any of the burdens.”
You want a later curfew? You still need to be up early for your job.
You want to watch what you want on TV? Buy your own TV.
You want to use our car? You pay for your own insurance and all the gas.
You want that brand new iPhone 7? You pay for it.
When you have an “adult” living at home you have another person who helps carry a larger load. It’s called RESPONSIBILITY.
An adult won’t get angry about their responsibilities. They are grateful to help out. An adult understands they’re an adult.
An adult will help with grocery shopping or making dinner, doing the laundry or whatever makes your life a little easier.
Think about it: If you were living in someone’s home you would help, so why is your adult child getting a free pass to watch video games all weekend long instead of getting a second job and saving to move out?
You’re not raising a child — You’re raising an adult.
Why would you let your “adult” kid stay out all hours of the night and then sleep away the next day?
The only reason your “child” can sleep in late without a JOB is because YOU are providing a roof over their head and keeping food in the pantry.
This is called enabling and you are co-depending very bad habits.
Go ahead, name all the successful adults in your life who succeed in the world with this sort of lifestyle?
Living at home as an adult should be a temporary thing. Boundaries need to be communicated.
Over 18 and still living at home?
If your son or daughter is living in your home after they graduate high school there needs to be some communication about boundaries and expectations.
Here’s a few examples of expectations you might consider adopting with your adult kid if they’re living at home.
- They must be in college.
- They must have a full-time or part-time job while in college.
- They will have chores around the house. Explain which ones you need him to continue while living at home.
- Not going to college? They must pay rent. Set a fixed amount and make sure to communicate if rent is not paid they need to find other living arrangements. Whatever you decide. Then stick to it!
- Set a date on the calendar when they are hoping to be out on their own.
- They must now pay their own cell phone bill, car insurance , gas money. If they play video games they must pay for the TV package.
These may sound harsh to the “Marshmallow Mom” in all of us — but communication is key.
If You Have An Adult Child You Want Out -There’s A Lot You Can Do
What I’d suggest is make home an uncomfortable place for your “adult” to live. When we make things incredibly easy they will never leave home. Or, worse than that, you’ll give your future grandkids parents who don’t know the value of sacrifice or hard work.
If you’re son/daughter is living the “Lifesteyles of the Rich and Famous” and have a problem doing chores, keeping their word with curfew times etc., you need to lovingly communicate that things are going to change. You don’t need to yell or scream. Have an adult conversation with this “child” who thinks they’re an adult. Adults are okay with this–children are not.
Once you’ve set your new ground rules stop co-depending their future. Now that they’ve turned that magical age of 18 maybe you need to begin treating them like the adult they say they are.
Need a little more help with parenting? The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids is a great resource!