Parenting Adult Children is Complicated

When young adults have lived independently, they are accustomed to making their own schedules and sleeping, eating, studying and socializing according to their own rhythm. In general,  they’re not that interested in free advice about what they could be doing better or differently. Instead, they want to be respected for the autonomy that they’ve developed and be seen in their developing maturity.

Coexisting peacefully means realizing that your job is to support them more than guide them. They need collaboration and compassion: their lives have been turned upside down and they’ve likely lost many events, activities and plans which really mattered to them. They want to have a sense of their independence by making whatever choices they can in their newly limited lives. Many young adults right now are both anxious and depressed. As parents, we’ve got to remember that they are more fragile than they’ve been.

It’s reasonable to establish ground rules that reflect creating a civil, honest and safe environment for your home. Take about how to share chores, respect each other’s boundaries and work together to solve issues. Make a list of who’s doing what and post it in the kitchen. Create a plan for what to do when people aren’t following through. By strategizing for success and setting up clear plans for daily living, you’ll reduce the frequency of any conflicts which will naturally arise during this time.

If your adult child is behaving irresponsibly (sleeping all day and up all night, not following social distancing recommendations or abusing substances), talk with them about their stated goals for themselves and their view on how they are progressing towards them. Offer neutral observations about their behaviors, ask them how you can help and consider assisting them with making online appointments with their physician, finding a therapist or following a daily routine that includes exercise. Ask questions and listen to their responses, reflecting back what you hear them say and without judging or dismissing their opinions.

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