When Adult Children Move Home

Alcoholic adult child

It seems to be happening increasingly these days. Children grow up, leave home, work, and then move back home. Sometimes it’s after five years. Sometimes it’s after 25 years. I’ve been there as a parent… a few times. Most adult children who move home do so as an expedient.

Although sometimes the homecoming son or daughter is accompanied by children and/or a spouse, which makes the arrangement more complicated, I’ll assume for the present the returning adult child is single, and the parents are together.

The typical agreement among the three is that they will all get along and treat one another with respect. Each will contribute financially according to means. Obviously, the financial contribution of the returning offspring may be quite limited.

Since they are three adults living together, they agree to chip in and do their share of the usual chores around the property. They also agree that if things don’t work out for any reason the son or daughter will make their own arrangements to live elsewhere.

“Not working out” is intended to mean that one or more of the parties becomes unhappy with the arrangement and can’t get past that. Unhappiness could arise because the adult child’s “occasional drink” turns out to be serious drug or alcohol abuse. Criminal behavior, (theft, producing drugs, holding stolen property, etc.), someone feeling abused, or the parents fighting with eachother could be other sources of unhappiness.

Unfortunately, this very sensible agreement is seldom written down. Then, if things deteriorate, instead of looking for sensible solutions, each refers back to his or her recollection of the agreement: “but you promised…” Everyone seems to have forgotten the escape plan.

The dynamic of the typical deterioration is almost universal. In rare cases it may be avoided if all parties are very conscious of it in advance and are very vigilant.

So what is the dynamic? It usually starts off well with everyone having the best of intentions to live as an adult couple with another adult. However, they have never done this before with one another. But they have years of experience of living together as parents and a child.

The adult son does something that he would have done as a teenager at home, but has never done as an adult on his own. Or one of the parents say something that they said frequently when their daughter was a teenager at home, but would never say to a stranger who was staying with them as boarder.

A teenager’s psychological work is to be somewhat defiant in preparation for leaving home. The parents’ job is to launch their teenager into adulthood.

The parents say “Let us know when you’ll be home.” They may be asking for the common courtesy that they give to each other. But the adult son or daughter experiences this as an attempt to control. Memories of teenage curfews are triggered. In unconscious defiance, they don’t give the courtesy they would have extended without question to a same-aged roommate.

It takes great restraint for a parent to not act like a parent when you’re 25-year-old or 45-year-old offspring is acting like a teenager. I’m not sure I ever got the knack of it.  It is even more of a challenge for the less mature adult child to stay adult when the parents are acting like parents of a teenager.

For the sake of everyone’s sanity, always have an escape plan. You could even post it on the refrigerator.

Life Purpose: Why are you here?

Life purpose?

Why are you here on this Earth? Why do you matter? These questions have been around forever in regard to finding purpose in life.

Think back to when you were a child and heard your teachers, parents and other elders ask you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Sometimes, with a little more awareness, they asked, “What do you want to do…” or “What do you want to create when you grow up?” I remember those days.

But in those early days, my job was to survive, play, discover, and learn about the world and myself. Because of my circumstances, a lot of energy went into just plain survival. The brain waves of a child up to about age 9 look very much like the brain waves of an adult under hypnosis. The urge to grow precedes adult-type consciousness. Living on purpose for a child is not a question of choice; it’s hardwired.

Sometimes you get glimpse of a bigger purpose at an early age. I got such a glimpse at age 11. I “knew” what I wanted to be. I “knew” what my purpose in life was. However, that was just a glimpse, but one that has reemerged periodically over the decades.

As you emerge from adolescence into early adulthood your goals are highly influenced by circumstantial, cultural and the life-cycle issues. When I was 16 and my parents were gone, my primary goal was self-sufficient survival. It soon became apparent that my self-sufficiency would be better assured if I went to University, so my primary purpose in life became getting through University.

Then, without any real consciousness of it, the life-cycle requirement of finding a mate and reproducing kicked in. As that purpose in life was fulfilled, the purpose of emotional survival reared its head.

I think that the goal of living in the integrity had been there since I was a child, but in my late 20s I was becoming quite conscious that personal integrity was the foundation of living a meaningful and purposeful life.

As you move forward in pursuit of fulfilling a meaningful intention, out of left field will appear something bigger you have to pursue. Then seemingly out of nowhere something even bigger appears that you must pursue. Yes there are distractions and blind alleys, but with experience you get better at distinguishing between those and the real opportunities.

By the time I was in my early 50s I had given up telling others what I was “going to do when I grew up.” It had become a bit of a joke. Each time I had pursued a path that I was good at and enjoyed, it turned out that something more important was to come. Each time I would think “now I have found my purpose.”

I finally settled into just pursuing my work with passion and purpose, knowing full well that there may be an even bigger job for me in my future. Although I often couldn’t see it at the time, as I look back I can see how all of my pursuits fit into that bigger purpose that I had glimpsed at age 11.

What it comes down to is this: living on purpose may involve many different purposeful pursuits within a lifetime. It is perhaps only at the end of life that you can look back and answer the question, “Why was I here?” That is my hope, at least.

Look at it this way: “If you fulfill your purpose, the universe will give you a bigger purpose.”

Five Silly Ideas That Can Hurt Your Marriage Relationship

Marriage Ceremony

Some of the old notions about marriage relationships, often stated as wise truths by our grandmothers, are still floating around and are still doing damage. One of my grandmother’s favorites was “Never let the sun set on an argument.”

Silly idea number one: never go to bed angry.

I swallowed that one at about aged five. Then in my 20s my wife and I would argue half the night rather than go to sleep without settling the issue.

The problem was that nothing was ever resolved. The argument was “settled” with one of us giving in and the other having his or her way. To make matters worse, our anger was seldom about what we thought it was about. If we had just let the issues sit overnight, we might have realized what the anger was about and avoided an evening of pain and further alienation.

Silly idea number two: “You should know what I need without my telling you.”

Duh! I have written before about how expecting your partner to be a mind reader can lead to a mountain of disappointment.

Silly idea number three: “If you love me, you would…”

In the news last week a woman was granted a new trial regarding her involvement in her boyfriend’s killing a teenaged boy. She is reported to have said to her boyfriend as he beat the boy, “If you love me, you’ll kill him.”

Love is love. Never assume a specific action should automatically follow love.

Silly idea number four: once you’re married, the man should not look at other women and the woman should not look at other men.

We are social beings who live in families, towns and cities. We’re surrounded by people of both sexes, who are programmed to look good in public. And if that is not enough, there’s always someone out there who is better looking and younger than our spouse.

The insanity of expecting oneself not to look at what is good to look at leads to secrecy and insane jealousy, both of which can destroy a marriage relationship. Looking does not mean leering, touching or having a romantic interest. Looking is just part of being alive.

Silly idea number five: You should never vacation alone.

Vacations are good, and they can be very good if taken together. However, for some working couples especially, vacations would be few and far between if they had to take all of them together. So they take individual vacations when they can. Their solo vacations are okay as long as no one feels guilty about it, because guilt wrecks havoc on marriage relationships.

There are other such sillies out there, like “verbal abuse isn’t dangerous,” and “what happens at home, stays at home.” Can you think of a few more?