Tips for Parents Living with Young Adult Children

By Joannie DeBrito, Ph.D., LCSW, LMFT
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Tips for Parents Living with Young Adult Children
Whether you are enjoying or being challenged by this time of living with your young adult child, it’s a great time to develop adaptability.

When I dropped my youngest daughter off at college, I helped her get settled into a new apartment, said good-bye, kissed her and drove off to return home. About ten minutes down the road, I pulled over, unable to focus on the road because I was sobbing. Having seen this scenario play out dozens of times before because I worked on a college campus, I was surprised by my reaction. I was supposed to be the calm, cool professional who was going to accept this transition in my life as my young adult child left the nest and moved on.

But of course, this time it was different. This time it was personal. So, I gave myself permission to grieve — for a few hours maybe — and then, I started thinking about how life could be better. By the time I had crossed two states, I was looking forward to walking in the door and enjoying some peace and quiet. Two weeks into the empty nest, I was really enjoying this new season of my life and having more time with my husband. Actually, we began to really love our lives. We stayed connected with our kids and remained close but they were doing well and so were we. Life was good. Really good.

Returning to the Nest

Then, one of my daughters needed to move back in with us while in transition from a job in one state to a job in our home town and honestly, it was sort of hard. So, if you’re a parent who has just had your flock return to the nest because of the pandemic, I can empathize. Like me, I’m sure you love your children but let’s be honest, you’ve changed and your kids have changed since they left home. Now, both parties will have to make adjustments to live peacefully with one another for awhile.

For you, I’ve made a video that provides some tips for how to manage some of the challenges of living with your young adult children. Here it is:

I encourage you to talk with other friends who are going through the same experience. You’ll probably find that you can relate to one another and be able to help each other with specific situations.

A New Person

It’s also important to emphasize that this can be a really fun time. Use this as an opportunity to get to know the new person that your young adult child has become. I remember having a conversation with my daughter after she moved back in with us and thinking, “Who are you and where did this wisdom come from?” Obviously, from new experiences and adventures as well as struggles and challenges.

You’ll find that your relationship will begin to move from one of dependence to interdependence and you’ll be able to appreciate your son or daughter as an adult. My daughter would routinely make special dinners for us, definitely a change from “Hey Mom, what’s for dinner?” We started going for long walks once a week or so and talking, really exploring, what was going on in her life at the time. I look back on that time with very fond memories.

Back Home and In Crisis

Later, after living independently for many years, she came back to live with us because she was very ill. So, I’ve also had the experience of having an adult child at home who is in crisis. While that situation was difficult, it was just as significant and meaningful as the first one as we grew closer while fighting the illness together. And, we were challenged to put our faith and trust in the Lord. So, while I wouldn’t want to repeat those times, I am grateful for the lessons learned and relationships strengthened.

Whether you are enjoying or being challenged by this time you have with your adult child, it’s a great time to develop adaptability, one of the 7 traits of effective parenting. You’ll need to exercise that trait often in the years to come and if you become a grandparent.

7 Traits of Effective Parenting Assessment

Good parents aren’t perfect. There’s no formula to follow, but there are ways you can grow every day. Focus on the Family’s 7 Traits of Effective Parenting Assessment gives parents an honest look at their unique strengths, plus some areas that could use a little help.

For now, hang in there and check back frequently for more resources to help you and your family thrive at:

© 2020 by Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. 


Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.
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