Your home seemed oddly quiet and their quirky, sometimes annoying habits now felt endearing. You missed their voice and weird sayings, seeing their face as they dashed from the door to their room, and worried if they’d be ok on their own. Would they remember what to do in the little situations with the life skills you tried to teach them? Would they miss you at all?
Now they’re home for the summer and you’re looking forward to reconnecting; hearing about their adventures during family dinners, movie/game nights, even enjoying time at the lake, hiking or biking out in the sun. Then reality hit…
You’re NOT missing them anymore!
It’s only been a few weeks and you’re wondering where the gorgeous child you sent off last fall went. They’ve come home with less than desirable habits and language, they’re not respecting your house rules, always out with friends, barely acknowledging you, and you’re feeling heartbroken while they’re living their best life!
This is NOT a hotel!
Just because they had a meal plan in residence with a buffet of pre-made choices, no dishes to wash and someone else cleaned the sink and toilet weekly doesn’t mean that’s continuing at home. Is it too much to ask for a basic, ‘Hello’, ‘Good morning’, or ‘See you later’?!
You’re holding back tears and spiraling into a resentment storm so talking about it feels too raw. Cooking meals, cleaning up and doing laundry through clenched teeth isn’t helping either.
Manage your expectations.
Did you know that by 12yo, children have spent 75% of their lifetime hours with you? And by 18 they’ve already spent 92% of their lifetime hours with you? They want all the freedom with no responsibility or relationship as they spread their wings and create a life of their own.
It’s not an all or nothing thing. Creating agreements based on the reality of their stage of life AND what’s important to both of you is critical to maintaining your connection and keeping resentment at bay.
The guilt trip is expensive.
Using passive aggressive ‘suggestions’, sarcasm, contempt, or other toxic communication tools to express your frustration and resentment only gets you more of what you don’t want, including disrespect and disconnection.
Boundaries build respect and compassion because they’re a relational tool arrived at through conversation that attempts to find a workable middle ground of understanding. Sometimes that middle ground feels like standing on different sides of the Grand Canyon and sometimes it’s like trying to have you and your teen/young adult balance on the head of a pin at the same time.
Studies show that helping around the house builds confidence, increases resilience, helps connect effort to outcome and improves success in the workplace. Coming to terms with your budding adult being fundamentally different than you, no longer the child who loved to mimic you and seek your approval, is a healthy (and sometimes hard) starting place.
Here’s some suggestions to begin negotiations:
- one night to cook (or help), one night of dishes
- do your own laundry including your bedding
- full or part-time job – what’s their money for and what will you pay for, be specific
- paying rent and contributing toward education – help them create a budget and be upfront to avoid moving goal posts
- borrowing the car – when, reasonable restrictions, reimbursement for gas, etc.
- household contributions – collect and put out the garbage, empty the dishwasher, walk the dog/pick up, water/mow/edge the lawn, etc.
- larger projects – clean out the vehicle, sand and re-stain the desk, clean the garage/shed
- having friends over and quiet time in the house
- curfew – Young adults rarely plan more than a few hours in advance, and they roll with what unfolds rather than being tied to one outcome. If they’ve just spent 8 months away running on their own schedule with complete freedom and independence. Imagine moving back into your parents’ house today and being told you have to be home at 11pm. Aim for a reasonable middle ground.
- family time – quality over quantity with no tech, advance notice to respect other plans (teens don’t plan!), they don’t want to come to aunt Jane’s for Sunday potato salad, picnic and may not value or have time off work for additional family vacations
- privacy – your teen finds your once curious questions about what they did and who they were with intrusive and lacking trust. They no longer want to share all the details of their life and have a friend group with people you’ve never met.
Your teen/young adult needs down time, a lot of it actually, as part of their still developing brain. If you feel resentful about their free time and want to fill it with larger projects and tasks because they’re being lazy or irresponsible, you might be acting out of retaliation and envious of the downtime they have you desperately need to give yourself (because only you can give yourself permission and time to experience it).
Change starts with YOU!
Building respect in your relationship with your teen doesn’t mean demanding or begging for it from them. It means deciding you’re worth respect first and acting like it, not needing them to agree or make the first move.
Great news! My LIVE Challenge – 5 Days to a Better Relationship with Your Teen starts on June 13th when I’ll share proven, boundary setting tools to lower your stress and create a more open and respectful relationship with your teen. Click below to get on the wait list and be the first through the doors when registration opens June 6th.