Children Returning to the Nest – “Kidults”
What is a “kidult”? I define a kidult as a child who has been away at school and is returning home for the summer. They are either between school semesters, have graduated and need to find a full-time job, or are transitioning to graduate school.
Do you have college students, boarding school students or newly graduated students that have returned to the nest? I have two coming home, one having just finished his freshman year and the other just graduated. I am both excited and nervous.
We, as parents look forward to their return, we have missed them and having an extra driver to help out with errands is a good thing; but at the same time it can bring some anxieties. We haven’t lived with them all year. How have you and they changed? How do we keep our sanity and be supportive parents? Setting ground rules early may lessen anxiety for everyone.
A kidult finds themselves having been “on their own” at school with many freedoms and setting their own schedule and now, they are living back home where there are parental rules and expectations. Parents have been living without this extra person(s) and now have to adjust to their return. This inevitably means a transition time and re-teaching by parents and re-learning by kidults, what the boundaries and ground rules are of living under the same roof. And yes, parents, it is okay to have rules and responsibilities for kidults living in your house if you feel it’s important. Things like helping out with the cleaning or yard work is an okay expectation, as is not staying out into all hours of the night.
So how do you avoid this conflict and reestablish a sense of family living with your kidult?
- Parents first need to be on the same page with each other and discuss ahead of time what expectations are appropriate.
- Plan a family meeting when they first get home to discuss the expectations. Don’t wait until the conflict happens. Be proactive.
- Don’t dictate and preach. Involve them in the conversation. They need to take ownership in the process.
- Remind them that their actions will now affect everyone in the house.
- Talk about how life at school may be different than life at home.
- Negotiate a list of responsibilities now that they are home, like:
- Mowing the lawn
- Working a summer job
- Actively seeking a full time job (if they have graduated)
You and your kidult have grown and changed in different ways. We want to encourage independence and growing up, but with a sense of family and respect for others.
Managing this potential conflict is about finding a balance for all of us and setting expectations early in their return can make for a much sunnier summer for all of you.