Imagine a household, where a man lives with his 25 and 27 year old children…

For today’s purposes, we are going to define adult children as those who are not on your health insurance and are over twenty-five. We are going to define parent as the person paying the majority of the bills. We’re going to leave the 18-24’s alone for the time being.

So there you are, a parent, and both your adult children live with you…

Do you expect your children to ask permission to do certain things with regards to the house?

Do you expect them to discuss certain things with you before they happen?

Do you treat them as completely equal with regards to how things are done?

Like, if your child wanted to bring home a pet, would you expect them to ask your permission/discuss with you?

Do you have the right to say “No” if asked?

Does the parent have the right to bring home a pet without asking the others?

What about other things?

Building a firepit in the backyard?

Putting an above ground pool in the backyard?

Buying a gun?

Having someone spend the night?

Having a significant other move in?

Partaking of illegal substances?

Growing illegal substances?

Party?

How does the parent/child dynamic shift as time passes?

Do any of these expectations shift if the child financially splitting the cost of things?

If the child is paying the majority of the bills?

Please pick any or all parts of this discussion and, you know, discuss…

84 thoughts on “Those Adult Kids…

  1. I’m not sure this could ever happen with me. My adult daughter lived with me for 2 weeks about 7 years ago while between apartments. Did not go well for either of us. She worked evenings, I worked days, neither of us could sleep due to the others schedule. She had expectations that she would be living with me as she did before she was an adult. Theirs means she thought I would cook and clean and she would hang out. I had expectations she would help equally around the house. Needless to say, it did not go well and we were both ready for the two weeks to be over. I suppose if it was for anytime longer than I have to be some serious conversations involved.

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  2. I think it depends. Some things like pets, people moving in, etc should be a household decision. Someone spending the night or other temporary things that don’t permanently alter the household don’t necessarily need to be discussed.

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    1. I brought that one up thinking of a story.i knew someone whose 25 year old son was living with them. He brought a guy home and the next day the mom went to make coffee and she saw the rifling through stuff. She was very permissive with her kids, but realized that they might not make the best choices when drunk and horny

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  3. An interesting topic 😊. If we assume that the parent is the owner of the house or pays the rent then I think it would be appropriate for the adult child to discuss many of the things you mentioned – making changes to the structure of the house or grounds for example. With regards to a pet I guess a conversation about it would be appropriate especially if it is the type of pet that would get the run of the house like a dog. If it’s a goldfish in a bowl in said offspring’s room it’s less important. If it was something that could induce trauma (snake or tarantula) to other household members or allergies etc I think a consensus would have to be reached also. As for having a partner stay over – this is one we’ve dealt with recently. There are as no discussion about it before it happened. I wasn’t too concerned about that as my son is an adult and has to make his own decisions. My husband and daughter were more put out about the lack of discussion around the matter. In my view if my son had his own place he wouldn’t have to consider what anyone else thought about it and he does contribute to the bills. In any household where several adults live together though, is it only courteous to let the others know about decisions which could affect the others?

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    1. My feeling is that people living in the same space should at least discuss these things, or maybe ground rules set up beforehand. The problem is, people go into these situations with their own expectations and don’t consider that they might conflict with someone else…

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  4. This topic is obviously a nightmare. I don’t even want to think about it. Thank God my daughter is on her own with a good job working as a Broward County prosecutor. She was born with a good head on her shoulders and we tried hard not to screw it up.

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  5. These are great questions…….I am sure it would depend on your adult child’s behavior and circumstances on how you would answer these questions. My oldest is 21 and works and goes to school……..we are very blessed with 0 issues with him living here…….but this may or may not be the case with the rest. 🙂

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  6. Good questions but I am a child-free woman and when I finished college I didn’t move back home but went out onto my own, far away from home. Thus I have nothing to add to this conversation but that didn’t seem to stop me from commenting here, did it? 😊

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  7. I didn’t leave home until I was 24 (due to health issues in the family); my dad and I never had problems. My daughter mostly left at 18, which was too soon for me, but she and I are so alike, it was probably a good thing. We battle. Had she stuck around … hmmm … my house; my rules, I guess, but it would boil down to love and respect and talking about whatever the issue might be. Or I hope that’s how it would play out …

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    1. Some of these examples I wrote were sticking points with some of my friends. It’s like, what makes some adult/child situations fine, while others are not?

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  8. I think one’s history of having grown up and being taken care of by said parent always makes the situation stickier than it would be otherwise. Of course, there are many irresponsible adults who treat roommates like they will clean up after the irresponsible one.

    From my experiences, I would have a sit-down about expectations.

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  9. My son is living in the apartment attached to my house, he pays his own personal bills and he and his fiance are saving up money for their wedding and their first house. I realize that since they are living in a separate apartment it is different, but we own the property. They are doing their own thing and really do not have to ask permission for anything, funny though they have discussed a firepit and that will have to be discussed with us as it is our yard too. I believe the arrangement we have is a good one and people might want to consider it more as we are aging and the cost of living for the younger generations have not kept up with income levels. Multi-generational housing may become a more common way of life.

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    1. Separate apartment is a different dynamic, but yes…shared spaces must be discussed. I think you hVe a point about multigenerational living, but I don’t know how well it will work long term

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  10. I have two 18-24 year olds so I am not at this point. Our 22 year old lives with us and there are no issues.

    For the future though there is no way I could see my kids having an SO move in. Our house is small and I don’t have the personality to deal with that, especially if the SO didn’t follow basic courtesies. If the SO moved in, would the kid pay more rent? Would the SO contribute to the rent?

    If the kid was paying the majority of expenses that would definitely change the dynamic.

    I knew a couple who had a thirty something daughter living with them. They wanted to sell their house and downsize to something much smaller–as in too small to take their daughter with them. I think the daughter ended up moving in with a boyfriend so they never had to address the issue with the daughter.

    I think with the pandemic there will be an increase in adults moving back in with their parents.

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    1. We know a family where the 35 and 40 year old children are still living at home. The parents are very resentful of the situation at this point because they feel they can’t move and downsize. It can really be bad

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  11. Personally I dont think that adult children should be living with their parents but sometimes it works. There has to ground rules. This boggles my brain because what if she is daddys girl or he is mommies boy that can do no wrong….its just going to cause problems.

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  12. I don’t even think that spouses should be making any unilateral, permanent changes on a house without consulting each other (and that includes pets and roommates). I’ve always been of the opinion that all those things should be discussed and agreed on before they happen, so this would absolutely apply to any children as well. I’m also a “My house, my rules” kind of person. If I own it and I’m paying the majority of the bills and carry the legal liability for the property, then you can either follow those rules or move (this would cover the whole range of questionable activities). That said, I’m usually pretty flexible and a simple conversation about the situation may get the desired results. Doing so without asking? That will just piss me the hell off. Even if the child is paying a bulk of the bills, I think that discussion and agreement should always come into play, though I can see how things might get really sticky in that situation, especially if the child paying the bills is critical to keeping those bills paid.

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    1. I’m with you. I’m big on the discussion and set of expectations, no matter who is involved. Other than my personal space, I think all home type decisions should be at least floated out there. I bought new dishes, but I still asked my husband if he had any major issue with them. It’s just courtesy.

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      1. I’ve always been a little floored when I see people that have relationships that look more like distant roommates with totally separate lives than a partnership. I really thought that the whole give and take and cooperation and discussion thing was the norm, but it apparently isn’t?

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  13. This.is.my.life. My husband is having a hard time with our 24 year old daughter (I know you said they don’t count but in this case she does) and our 32 year old son living with us. He thinks they should both be out on their own but realistically, they can’t do that where we live (SF Bay Area). Should they help around the house more without being asked? Yes. Both pay minimal rent. Most of the time they tell us where they are going, but the main thing is we want to know if they will not be coming home so we can lock the doors and turn off the porch light. My husband thinks that if they go out and get fast food or order in, they should ask him if he wants something but doesn’t think he needs to if he is out and gets food. He gets mad when they spend money because he thinks they should be saving every penny to get their own place. As far as having people over, they always ask first. No to any animals. We have a dog and there is a ferrel cat that has taken up residence outside and in the garage. That’s enough. Everybody does their own laundry and I usually try to do mine during the week to leave the weekends free for them since they work outside the house.

    Personally, I have no problem with the kids staying here, but then I came from a “normal” upbringing. My mom was sad when I left the house at 21 to live on my own. Hubby had an alcoholic father and his parents were divorced when he was young so he is used to having to fend for himself. He tells stories of when he had no money and slept under a bridge for a few nights. I would not want my kids to have to do that.

    As with marriage, communication is key. Also compromise and being careful about the double standard. If you leave the TV on in the living room and go out into the garage for a few hours, you can’t get mad if someone leaves the kitchen light on. It’s a balancing act.

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    1. I get both of your points. And that’s why it’s so hard! There’s no right or wrong answer…just questions and situations. I think my husband would be much more accommodating to my daughter at home, but that’s cause I do everything!

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  14. I think every family is different and what may seem reasonable to one may drive another right round the bend. But, having said that, personally I would expect the kiddos to be considerate and take responsibility for things like cleaning up after themselves; contributing to such things as making meals. However, watching family members put up with all kinds of behaviors that would, frankly, piss me right off, I know not every kid is respectful, not every kid is considerate. At one point in time, after moving across the country, all three of my kids ended up moving back in with us and then my nephew came to stay. It actually was not that bad. Everybody pitched in, but there were tensions from time to time, nothing too serious though. At the time it worked – not so sure it would today. I like my space. hahaha

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  15. No doubt everyone should lay out ground rules in these situations. Now that my 22 year old is living with us since graduating from college, we haven’t had this talk though–she is sort of an old soul and the pandemic put a damper on how much socializing one she could do.
    I’m not sure everyone can anticipate every possible conflict though. My mom flipped out when a houseguest opened her curtains. I personally wouldn’t go to someone else’s house and open their curtains—-but I also would not see it as the end of the world like my mom did.

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    1. Good point. You don’t know what things will irk you in the end. As I told tater, my friend was very permissive/low rules when it came to her kids living home. But then her son brought home a questionable one night stand, and she had to reevaluate her thoughts

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  16. Each case and family can be different. The most important thing is that the parents and adult children agree on ALL the ground rules before moving into together!!! Sometimes parents move in with their adult children, as well, which is different but could offer many of the same challenges.

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  17. No time to comment earlier, but my first thought was “how about we turn this around” especially since Covid has been brought into the mix. I see your points regarding the focus on truly adult children, but… how about we have a parent move back into an adult child’s home? What rules apply then? Do the adult children feel obligated to defer to what the parent wants, even though it’s not the parents “home”?
    I’ve had “what if” conversations with my adult children on this topic. No matter which way the situation arises, a group of adults living under the same roof has to be willing to have long conversations about expectations surrounding everything. I suppose I view an adult/adult living arrangement as a business proposition with clear and specific contractual obligations from both sides.

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    1. It should be viewed more Like a business proposition. And you’re right: it goes both ways…will a parent be willing to live under the child’s rules because th3 child is “in charge”? Clearly rules must be set

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  18. 😀 When I visit my mother I think she thinks I’m still age 13 the same when my brother stay, so I guess that parent child dynamic is impossible to ever shake off? Makes me laugh any way. (As for ever moving back home? I think I’d rather buy a tent and go live in a field!)

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  19. I don’t have to ask anyone if I want to get a dog, but my son would have to ask us because it’s our house. Same with the fire pit. He floated the idea, we went along with it. But it’s hard. A lot of adult kids want it both ways: the convenience of living at home yet the freedom to come and go as they please. It can be maddening at times.

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  20. Not knowing the circumstances behind the move in or the temperaments/attitudes of the kids, I think I’d have a family discussion about each of these issues and see if there was common ground that could be agreed upon before a situation arose. Some of them, I’d assume, should defer to the homeowner like doing anything to alter the house our surroundings. Now, the idea comes to mind to make the living situation as unpleasant as possible so they don’t stay too long……….just sayin’. 😉

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  21. I lived at home till I was 32. I paid rent though from 25 till then. I was single, never brought anyone home or parlayed in any nonsense. My mom got sick with Cancer and I became a part time caregiver along with my Dad till she died. My brother had already moved out a decade prior to her death. Sometimes life just gets in the way of leaving the nest, I suffered from undiagnosed anxiety and depression back then. My Dad always thought I was lazy but there was more to it. I’m grateful that my parents let me stay as long as I did, but I also enjoyed the freedom of leaving when I did.

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  22. We have a son and a grandson (uncle and nephew) living with us at the moment. Everything has flowed smoothly with no discussions about any of the things you listed. Evidently, we haven’t stepped on each other’s toes yet.

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  23. Unless the parties involved genuinely consider a point of view other than their own, it’s a potential disaster in the making – and that’s a requirement for both adult parents and adult children. I speak from personal experience as one in a family of adult children who all lived “at home” one after the other in order to provide care to one parent. The other parent proved so difficult to live with that although they’d have the adult children home again in a heartbeat, the adult children would all rather live in their cars.

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  24. Communication is the only way forward! Sometimes, particularly this year, there is no choice. My 29 year old son moved back home last week. He had his wages cut by 30% (firm is struggling to survive, Covid related) and couldn’t afford his rent anymore. He’s here for a while and so far so good. He will pay minimal rent and helps around the house. He respects our space and we respect his. And if it all gets too much for us, we can talk about it.

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  25. So my oldest son is 26. He lives with me because he served 6 years in the Air Force and is now in his last year of college. Does that necessarily mean he will immediately get a job and move out upon graduation? Mmmm….probably not. But anyway, I think permission depends on the issue–at least on his end. On my end, I will never ask him for permission to do anything in my home. While he doesn’t pay rent, he does pay the electric bill. Regardless of what he contributes, however, he still will never be asked permission for anything by me. I think that’s just a given with him. He would never expect me to because that’s how our parent/child dynamic functions. However, as far as him asking for permission, he knows that if it were a “big” issue (which again, depends on what others consider to be a big issue), it would be respectful to ask me first. Like he would never just bring another pet home. Nor would he have a party or bring a girl to my house. It just goes right back to the respect factor. I know he respects me too much to do these things. Am I just lucky? Should this type of respect be expected of all adult children? I don’t know. I’m just grateful I have it. 🙂

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  26. As a person with adult children living ‘at home’ I think more than anything it’s about communication. Keep talking about all the things! Paying attention to family dynamics is paramount. Falling into old patterns is no good for anyone. Also, every member of the household must be clear about expectations.

    If the adult child(ren) are contributing financially, e.g. paying rent, or taking on utilities, I feel like they have a vote in what goes on in the household. That said, my daughter brought three dogs with her when her family moved here. If she even floated the idea of another animal, they’d all be living in their cars! (Except Baby K – she can stay with her Birdie and Papa) 😉

    You know, some adult children buy their parent’s home when their parents are ready to downsize etc. if that’s the case, then perhaps fire pits and other things to the house are acceptable because of that change.

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