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Adult children staying close to home | Column

Fall has indeed arrived.

With the start of another academic year, many families within our community have experienced children of all ages returning to the classroom. For many adult children launching into adulthood, they have chosen to move away from home to attend college or pursue employment ventures. For other young adults, they have chosen to reside at home while embarking upon local education. Perhaps your adult child is attending a local community college or a nearby university. If not attending school, perhaps your adult child will be residing at home while employed or launching professional endeavors.

Amidst the challenge of rising financial costs for higher education and the increase in cost-of-living expenses, many adults are joining an increasing trend of adult children residing at home throughout the early portion of their adulthood. As this trend of residency continues amidst a season of children launching into adulthood, it invites the opportunity as well as the need to redefine the image of family. What does it mean to remain in relationship as a family in a new context of roles, expectations and experiences of one another as adults?

It may be helpful for your family to discuss this time of transition where each family member has an opportunity to speak of his/her expectations for this time of change within the family. Often parents and children (regardless of their age) have a differing sense of desires and expectations of themselves and others. Thus, it is beneficial for parents and children to be clear with one another about their visions for this time of transition in the family.

The following areas of conversation offer a framework to begin exploring these discussions:

Family living and relationships:

How might relationships or family roles change as a result of these transitional years? What are the expectations for household responsibilities, contributions or chores? How do you envision spending time together in relationship as a family? How might family obligations be balanced or negotiated with other commitments or conflicting schedules?

Social relationships and dating:

What are the expectations for leaving or coming from the home at particular hours? How might guests be invited to be at the home? Are invitations into the home based on particular values or guiding principles? Does the gender of guests alter expectations or conditions for entertaining? If in an intimate relationship, how might the home create space for this relationship? How might this space be defined or described and be respected within the family?

Academic and financial responsibilities:

Who will be paying for college and/or living expenses? Are financial contributions viewed as conditional upon certain expectations or responsibilities? Who’s responsibility is it to organize and maintain study or work habits and/or grade performance?

Often during times of transition and change within families, it is not always possible to speak with a sense of certainty about what is needed or how particular changes may be desired. As this time of transition begins to unfold within your family, the changes that may become helpful or desired will most likely become clearer to each member of the family over time. In reflecting upon the changes that your family may come to desire or create, the greatest experience of this transitional time will be in the continuing conversations as you explore and define together the ever-changing encounter of family.

Shannon Renae West is a licensed family therapist. She can be reached at (425) 415-6556 or via e-mail at ShanWest@msn.com.

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