For many women over 40, it is normally around this time of year when our beloved grown up, yet still dependant children (i.e. full time students) come back from college or university and relieve us of our empty nest syndrome blues. Most of us truly look forward to having them back and anticipate with joy the resumption of our ‘mom’ role for a few months at least. However, experience and research shows that this is not always an easy time and the relationship between parent and child can sometimes become a very tricky minefield indeed when our young adults move back home.
The problem is that the expectation on both sides is usually very different. You expect the child to slot back into his or her place in the family, abide by the normal family routine and generally go back to the way things were before her or she went away. Your child, on the other hand expects the independent life they have created for themselves whilst living away from home to continue, they expect to be treated equally as an adult and they are not always inclined to want to go along with the rules which were an accepted part of their lives whilst growing up in the home.
From my own experience the best way around this is to set some ground rules at the outset. You will probably have a week or so where it will all be lovely and then after that little things will start to irritate and annoy you and unless you tackle the issues before hand or at the very least as they crop up you will just end up feeling stressed and totally taken for granted all summer.
According to some of our Plan Free Mum forum members the main flashpoints are things like your kids still trying to keep student hours whilst the rest of the house is up and out to work early, not pitching in with house work and cooking, using the car without ever putting petrol or gas into it and assuming that everything in the fridge is there for their pleasure alone.
Remember, these are young adults we are living with now and taking an adult approach and discussing things in a reasonable manner them should, in theory pay off. Try to explain in a calm and reasonable tone that whilst you do not expect them to go to bed a t 10pm just because you do, you do expect them to be quiet when they eventually decide to turn in and also to keep the noise level from TVs, music, phones etc completely down as others are sleeping. This is common courtesy and respect. Also, if they are not working (or indeed even if they are), it is important for them to understand that whilst living with their family they are part of a collective and they must pull their weight around the home. If others are working so that they can eat, sleep in a warm bed and take showers whenever they want, then it is only fair that they take their turn at keeping things tidy and having a warm meal on the table for everyone a couple of times a week.
For parents, allowing your grown up children to take you for granted is a mugs game. It teaches your children nothing about being a considerate human being who can make compromises and live in relative harmony amongst others and it leaves you feeling stressed and low and even not particularly liking your offspring.
So be a good mom and give your kids a chance. Accept that there will be a settling in period and then speak to them and discuss what is expected. I bet you find the response amazing and that for the most part they will really step up to the plate. In my experience it’s not that these youngsters don’t want to make it right whislt living back at home, it’s simply that they have never thought of what making it right for everyone really means! Point it out to them in no uncertain terms and the summer break will be smooth sailing for all the family.
For more discussion go to our relationship forum