Reinventing Your Relationship with Your Adult Children: Questions 4 and 5

5 Big Questions

Question #4

Are You Communicating with Your Adult Kids on an Adult Level?

As your role with your adult children changes, so should the way you communicate with them. We must let go of our desires and expectations. One of the most helpful phrases for doing life with your adult children is “unsolicited advice is usually taken as criticism.” Much of the time, our motives are pure. We just want to help. But what they hear is, “You don’t trust me.” I’ve had to bite my tongue, and I have the scars to prove it. I like this tweet from writer Rachel Wolchin: “Maturing is realizing how many things don’t require your comment.”

Experience is a much better teacher than advice, and undoubtedly it will be the most effective way for your adult child to learn, even if it takes longer than you’d hoped. As your role changes from day-to-day advice-giving parent to more of a mentor-coach parent, you will find some rewarding times. The transition typically doesn’t happen if you are constantly giving advice, even if you are correct. Adult-to-adult communication occurs over time, and it becomes a rewarding part of your new relationship.

Question #5

Are You Ready for the Boomerang?

Yep, it is very possible that just as you are getting adjusted to your empty nest and beginning to enjoy it, your child will move back home. All three of our girls moved back a few times. Our front door turned into a revolving door. There were some great joys and some real hardships when the kids boomeranged. When one of our daughters moved in, I remember Cathy saying something like, “With her back home, unemployed, and with an attitude, it’s hard to believe I ever suffered from the empty-nest syndrome.”

One single mom I know moved out of a large house to save money. She told me that when her son called and asked if he could crash at the house for a few months, she was thrilled. But after a year, it was turning into more of a burden than a joy. She hadn’t taken into consideration that his moving back home might add a lot of tension and stress. She smiled and told me that the teenage years had prepared her to welcome the empty nest, and that after her son moved back in, he reverted to his teen behavior. One report revealed that kids’ moving back home causes significant health impacts, especially for mothers: 46 percent report sleeping loss and 40 percent report gaining weight.

When kids move back to the once empty nest, it’s important to recognize that it doesn’t have to be bad. But you have to plan to make the necessary adjustments. And by the way, if the boomerang is visiting your home, you are not alone. The Pew Research Center reported that for the first time in 130 years, young adults ages eighteen to thirty-four were more likely to be living at home than with a spouse or a roommate in their own households.[1] There could be several reasons why your adult child is moving back home. One might center around a delay in getting married. This generation seems to be getting married much later than earlier generations, waiting until their late twenties or thirties. Money, debt, and job access are other major reasons for the boomerang. Of course, 2020 and 2021 featured the covid-19 pandemic, and millions of adult children unexpectedly moved back home. Most parents were not prepared for the changes.

No matter the reason, it’s important to create agreements and establish boundaries and expectations. Because they are our children, we often tend to avoid the important discussions before they move in, which can bring on frustration, hurt feelings, and misunderstandings. Following are a couple of ideas to make the boomerang more enjoyable.

[1] Richard Fry, “For the First Time in the Modern Era, Living with Parents Edges Out Living Arrangements for 18- to 34-Year-Olds,” Pew Research Center, May 24, 2016, www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2016/05/24/for-first-time-in-modern-era-living-with-parents-edges-out-other-living-arrangements-for-18-to-34-year-olds/.

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Jim Burns

Jim Burns is the President of HomeWord. He speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has close to 2 million resources in print in 30 languages. He primarily writes and speaks on the values of HomeWord which are: Strong Marriages, Confident Parents, Empowered Kids, and Healthy Leaders. Some of his most popular books are: Confident Parenting, The Purity Code, Creating an Intimate Marriage and Closer. Jim and his wife, Cathy live Southern California and have three grown daughters, Christy, Rebecca and Heidi.

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