Shocking Truths (Sometimes Forgotten) About Parenting Adult Children Living In Your Home






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Part I: The Parents Perspective: When Does It End?  

Part II: The Young Adult's Perspective: Rebuttal 

Part II: Putting It All Together Peaceably





This is a common challenge for modern parents; what to do with an aging young adult child who lives in the parent's home.

emotional abuse 

More than half (53 percent) of 18- to 24-year-olds in the U.S. reside with their parents.  


Many of my clients have sought help working their way through what to do about an adult child (sometimes more than one) who is still living at home and seemingly not able to take care of themselves.


Of course, there are exceptions that legitimize this living with one's parent's situation as with disabled children or young adults living with their parents while they complete advanced training/education.


The concern for parents arises most notably when a young adult child seems stuck in movement towards self-sufficiency and emancipation. Maybe your child is not contributing his/her fair share or they are driving up the chaos in the family with irresponsibility and entitlement attitudes. You're bound to lock horns from time to time and wonder what to do next to break the gridlock.


Shocking (for those who forgot) Truths About Parenting

Two questions about parenting: 1) What is the goal of parenting?; 2) What is the best proof the parent has achieved this goal?. Answers will highlight the facts some may have forgotten. 


1. Parenting is a job. Our children are the products the job produces. I call parenting a job to remind us that parents carry the responsibility to raise and equip the next generation. Most people don't think about parenting as having a job description.


All cultures prescribe responsibilities, both formally and informally, that fall to the parent. There is relatively little definition as to the child's job, at least initially, other than to have fun and grow on all levels, not just physically.


The goal of parenting is to work yourself out of a job. Unfortunately, this is easy to forget since the average term of this job can be anywhere from 18 to 25 years. As with any job that lasts this long, things can get complicated.  


Our children develop minds of their own. We fall in love with our children. Parents and children become overly familiar with each other and treat each other as equals. Routines and expectations become set and status quo is hard to change the longer it perpetuates itself.


2. Proof positive that your parenting job is over and you need to retire from parenting is when the product of that job, your child or children, is self-sufficient. Biologists speak of a generation completing its cycle when the offspring are viable and able to survive independent of the parents.


Human parents and children do continue a life long relationship with each other, but it needs to change over time. After the next generation becomes fit for independent living, the former parent(s) can now move into the role of caring observer(s) who, when asked, provide gentle, non-intrusive wisdom for their adult children.


The parent-child relationship is the one relationship among humans that is by design time limited. Lovers, marital partners, friends and even coworkers have relationships that start and stop by mutual consent or external events interfere, such as death. No length of time is mandated for these kind of relationships. Furthermore, these relationships have a reciprocity to them that the parent-child relationship does not.


For parents and their children, the embedded design psychologically, sociologically, morally and legally of the parent-child relationship is arbitrarily one way and from the beginning expected to conform to a predictable timetable.  


Our society, for example allocates nine months for pregnancy, 16 years to learn to drive and develop adult physique, 21 years of maturation to learn how to drink and reproduce intelligently and take good care of yourself.

Other unique characteristics of parenting:

  • Parenting is a one-way relationship: from parent to child, not the other way around.
  • All societies built strict relationship boundaries or taboos of one kind or the other around the parent-child relationship.
  • From the beginning there is a power differential on multiple levels between the parent and child. This is supposed to be for the child's benefit and continues until the parents' job is done.
  • Families are not democracies and must maintain a clear hierarchical structure between parents and children defining who's the boss(s), who are the permanent residents and who are the guests.


When the goal and indicators that the goal has been achieved are forgotten, complications develop, one of which is, kids don't get launched.


We can fall in love with our children and like an artist who can't bear to sell his or her precious works, we don't let the children go their own ways.


We may integrate our children into our lives to such an extent that we depend upon them to meet a variety of needs. Parents may use their children to meet their emotional needs as in someone to talk to, fight with or socialize and recreate with. As children grow older, they can function as adult partners to their parents, especially in single parent families. adult child in parents home


As parents doing this long-term job, we can over time let our offspring become the organizing point of our life. We may dream of an empty-nest, but when the time comes to live in a nest with no children, the is no clear vision of what that life can look like or how to organize it.


What's A Parent to do?:Click here for suggestions 




Remember "The Archer's" Children


"Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,

which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them,

but seek not to make them like you.


For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children

as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,

and He bends you with His might

that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies,

so He loves also the bow that is stable."


                                                          Kahlil Gibran  



Is Technology The Parent Of Our Children?


In 1998 , Kevin Kelly (co-founder and editor of

Wired magazine) wrote the following:

"Because the nature of the network economy seeds

disequilibrium, fragmentation, uncertainty, churn, and relativism, the anchors of meaning and value are in short supply.  


We are simply unable to deal with questions that cannot be answered by means of technology. The stereotypical modern consumer is already a rather thin character. He or she is like a balloon: possessing an inflated ego and a thin identity stretched to its limit. They don't know who they are, but they are very certain that they are very important. The smallest prick can pop their container.


In the great vacuum of meaning, in the silence of unspoken values, in the vacancy of something large to stand for, something bigger than oneself, technology--for better or worse--will shape our society.


Because values and meaning are scarce today, technology will make our decisions for us. We'll listen to technology because our modern ears listen to little else.  


In the absence of other firm beliefs, we'll let technology steer. No other force is as powerful in shaping our destiny.


By imagining what technology wants, we can imagine the course of our culture."




And Marriage Has It's New Rules As Well. Find Out What They Are.


If the old rules about how to do marriage and intimate relationships worked, I would be out of business.


But, guess what: I have a thriving business working with couples who want more out of marriage and intimacy than their culture knows how to give them.  


The American culture pumps us full of high expectations about love and relationships. It does not deliver to its citizens on how to achieve that.


I put what I observe works for successful relationships into a short and condensed book:

"New Rules For Relationships and Modern Marriage: Love Is Not Enough"
                                                       by Paul W. Anderson, PhD


You can get your Kindle copy and/or hard copy from Amazon





Until next time, here's to taking good care of yourself first so that, secondly, you can take good care of others.


Paul W. Anderson, PhD



"Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk."
                                                                     Carl Jung



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