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The Contract

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Two boys. That’s what I thought I had. In varying degrees they thought they had a maid, a personal ATM, and a short order cook.

After throwing out the garbage they left on the kitchen counters, cleaning up the hair from where they shaved, loaning the youngest money for gas as Amazon made yet another delivery to him, and making two separate meals based on personal tastes, I realized that they were living the good life. The life I secretly want.

Now don’t get me wrong. They aren’t bad guys. If I ask them to do something, they will. No one ever forced me to do all the things that I have done for them. It just evolved from the time they were little into the behemoth of privilege that they are living in. You like that? Behemoth of Privilege. I came up with that myself. Feel free to use it. I guess the hair they left behind from shaving was a pretty big clue that they are not little boys, but grown men. The fact that they were born in a different century and can legally buy beer was also a good tip off.

Being the avid Googler that I am…do you think Googler could be listed as a hobby?...I went online to research rules for adult children living at home. Apparently I am not the only one to have Googled this. It popped up as fourth in line when I started to type in “adult chil”. After exhaustive research, here is what I learned:

emoticon Adult children are guests in your home.
emoticon Child/Children does not refer to an age, but rather the familial relationship position of the individual.
emoticon Any adult child over the age of 18 should have a contract outlining the rules, expectations, and financial obligations of living in the home.
emoticon You do not get complete freedom and the support of living at home at the same time.
emoticon The adult child that does not want to grow up will nitpick every term and point and in general balk at the idea. Hello Son#2.

After cobbling together a contract from numerous sites, I presented it to Son#1 and Son#2 along with a detailed list of bathroom and kitchen rules. Yes, sadly they needed those. Here is what I learned:

emoticon Both felt it applied to their brother more than them. Nothing like a little blame shift.
emoticon Son#1 took it much better than Son#2. He even went and cleaned his guest room, and then approached me later and asked what areas he needs to improve on.
emoticon Son#2 took offense at the words “guest” and “child” and “rules” and “contract”. That is just the short list.
emoticon The stoppage of purchasing an annual ornament two years ago for each of them involved many text messages this year by Son#2 suddenly stating 720 days later that not buying him one, like the contract, makes him feel like he is no longer a part of the family. (BTW, I stopped buying them when he said they were too old for ornaments.) This required a lengthy discussion explaining how their living at home is a choice, not an obligation, thus the term guest. That we are trying to instill the skills and resilience for when they move out on their own. They will always be loved. Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah
emoticon The desire to leave packing boxes in their guest rooms was suppressed. Sort of. For now.

Finally, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. They are cleaning up after themselves, everyone knows the expectations, and I have had time to tackle some of my own projects. Son#2 is on board. Thanks for joining the train to adulthood son. The best part is that I feel when they go out on their own, they will succeed and not be living out of a cardboard box unless they want to. I also have a new line. “The buck stopped way, way, way over there. Don’t bother asking for any more.”
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • SPICY23
    emoticon Strong work!

    I agree with people here, you did the right thing. I taught mine the basics about self care and home maintenance, aka housekeeping, so they would know how to take care of themselves out in the world. Funny how they do (some of) these chores at their own places but still will slack off when they come to 'visit' LOL. If any of them wanted to bounce back and live with us I imagine we'd draft some agreement, aka contract, so everyone was clear on the expectations.

    Peace and Care

    PS if things get bad, take them to visit a homeless shelter. That would be an eye-opener.
    884 days ago
    This too shall pass.......my children are older and no longer at home. You are definitely doing the right thing. I called it tough love,......even when my daughter was on her own, I would feel guilty if I didn’t help her. But our job is to raise our children to be responsible adults........so instead I tried being positive and told her I know she will find a solution. It worked......now she is my best friend. My son has two children and is a responsible adult.....hang in there.....there is a light!
    889 days ago
  • no profile photo CD22518161

    This is AWESOME. Boundaries are essential !
    893 days ago
    It is hard to establish and maintain boundaries. Keep the boundaries no matter what- it will be hard but so much better in the long-term.

    I'm learning this with my mom and sister. Very hard to keep boundaries that have never been there, but the relationships and I are better for it,
    894 days ago
    emoticon Julia! Great blog! I hope you have more time for you!
    894 days ago
    I love your sense of humor and it made me laugh how they each though it was the other's fault. I could definitely see me doing the same thing for my kids when grown! I already want my son to live at home for any schooling (but there are other issues at play with the SN) and if either or both end up living at home after I could totally see me coddling them. However, I think it would be cool to charge them rent and put some of it secretly into a Roth IRA so they are saving for retirement from the get go, but maybe that is coddling too? I know it's common in Europe for adult children who are not married to live at home, but I can see how I would absolutely need boundaries from the start. Keep us posted on how things go!
    895 days ago
    emoticon Very good solution to an age-old problem...


    895 days ago
    Perfect! Well done!
    895 days ago
    emoticon My BF son lives with us. He is 26 and doesn't work. He doesn't do anything at all. His dad does his laundry and gets him whatever he wants. It's hard on me because I worrk full time and BF only works a couple days a week for about 6-7 hours, so the rent and bills I have to pay.

    Have a great day.
    895 days ago
    A "passage" in parenting... good for you and, sooner or later they will come to understand, good for them!!!
    895 days ago
    Awesome blog. Congrats for coming up with a plan and a contract. My DW, bless her heart, made Easter Baskets for our kids every year even when they were adults living away from home. She stopped after they married or when I chided her about it. That was also the end of MY annual Easter Baskets.
    895 days ago
    Good Job Julia!!!!
    895 days ago
    Great blog, Julia. It took me awhile to learn that I am not doing anyone a favor by bailing them out all the time. It's an inner struggle for me.
    895 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/4/2019 2:37:35 AM
    emoticon Julia. Believe it or not.................they will appreciate your help in making them more independent "Men". When they do move out on their own, they will know what to do to run their lives in the best way possible. They will be ready in every way to help them to be successful.

    One of my favorite compliments came from our DIL. She thanked me profusely for "Training" our oldest son to be the partner and father that he is. Both of them work full-time jobs that are very physically and mentally taxing and both of them share all of the household chores equally with no questions asked.
    895 days ago
    Oh, I feel your pain! Our baby boy, 41, if I remember correctly, returned to the nest after a divorce...he and his 3 daughters. All believe they've moved into the Hollywood Hilton. This is only temporary, going on a year, until he finds a home. Granted, homes are expensive in this area, and he wants to keep the girls in this school system. I quite often ask why he'd want to move any sooner than necessary. After all, would I want to leave if I had a cook, maid, sitter, and uber driver for my children when I'm working? We just had a long talk about how a bathroom really does need to be cleaned more than once every six months and no, you really don't get bedbugs by making your bed daily. I might need to look into making a contract. Do you think we should have it notarized?
    896 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/3/2019 11:38:49 PM
    Awesome, Mom! Awesome mom.
    896 days ago
    Sounded like it was about time you put your foot down! Good on you!!
    896 days ago
    Way to go Julia. I hope this will allow you more time for yourself. emoticon
    896 days ago
    Great job Julia! I like the concept of the contracts.

    Of course, it's easy to say since I don't have children emoticon

    They both will thank you for this later!

    2019 . . . another new year emoticon

    896 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/3/2019 7:56:47 PM
  • BJAEGER307
    I only have one son who is going to be 34 this year. He was a good kid and a decent teenager. He was always the "forgetful" teenager, when it came to taking out the garbage, or emptying the dishwasher. He stayed at home until he was 25 and then he moved out. I was sad to see him go, but he didn't like the "rules" of the house, so he decided he was going out on his own.

    Long story short, he now tells me how he appreciates everything I did for him. He tells me I have no idea how much he now appreciates when he can come home and get a home cooked meal. He now knows living on his own isn't so easy peasy as he thought it would be. I do give him credit, he has never asked to move back home, nor has he asked to borrow money.

    They will learn once they are on their own. It's good you set boundaries and rules. Life is full of them.

    896 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/3/2019 6:52:03 PM
    Good blog. We no longer have anyone living with us but Son #2 is dealing with many of the same issues as you are. Perhaps I should suggest that he prepare a contract.
    896 days ago
  • HOLLYM48
    Adult children sometimes don't know that they are adults. Good for you for doing what you needed to do to get them to clean up their acts!
    896 days ago
    I can make this a very short one, Son's , your going to make someone a wonderful husband! I raised. 4 the same way, only one's ex "thought" she could do better, NOT! WTG Mom!
    896 days ago
  • no profile photo CD23740919
    This is so timely..with older kids still living @ home or boomerang kids...contracts/rules need to be in writing...to the point an exit time to be included...time to leave the nest birdie...
    896 days ago
  • no profile photo CD23740919
    This is so timely..with older kids still living @ home or boomerang kids...contracts/rules need to be in writing...to the point an exit time to be included...time to leave the nest birdie...
    896 days ago
    I am cheering for you as I read this! I've never seen the movie "Failure to Launch,", but i can't help but think that you are giving your sons wings and a great foundation for launching some day!
    896 days ago
    This is great thank you for sharing this!
    896 days ago
    I love this - it brings back so many wonderful/awful memories. Actually, my sons were the best of all my children, probably because they came after 3 teenage girls and they are twins. From the beginning they always had each other, one always there helping the other - AND there were those 3 older girls who thought the boys were their real life dolls to play with and boss around. But I also believe that by the time my sons were old enough to understand things they just plain felt sorry for me. There was Daughter #1 who thought she knew everything and was constantly telling me what I was doing wrong. Daughter #2 who just retreated to her room and her books when things got crazy. And Daughter #3 who nearly made me lose my mind constantly pushing the envelope, and her mom! So my sons were pretty much perfect. But I have had to create a contract or two - every time Daughter #3 needed to come home to live! "WHAT" she would say. "This is MY house!!!" Nope, I'd remind her. You are coming home as a guest! They do eventually grow up and become really great people although Daughter #1 is still telling me what to do! Daughter #3, however, has become the most thoughtful of all and will be the one to care for me when I'm too old to do it myself - she's already promised! Good luck to you!
    896 days ago
    O . . . M . . . . G!!!!! You just simply had to have been a fly on the wall here when DD (23), DH and I had a contract discussion. Boy, she could argue the 'absurdity' of the word "AND" to the death if she thought it was a way to negate the contract!!! The bank of Mom and Dad closed awhile ago as we'd explained she has to learn to live on what she makes. (Shoulda heard the wailing and nashing of teeth on that one!)

    As I explained, WE need to be financial stable for retirement as . . . ahem . . . don't think she will be supporting us!!! **SIGH** And I emphasized I wouldn't want her to, either! That would not be our desire.

    So we'll see where this all goes. It is not easy.

    We presented it as a choice. You have the choice to abide by the contract expectations or live on your own where you can afford to.

    She is thinking things over.

    Good luck!!!
    896 days ago
    Love it! Thanks for always putting a smile on my face.
    896 days ago
    I’m loving where the buck stopped.
    My daughter got herself her second tattoo. I explained that if she has the money for that ( not cheap), then when she needs bailing out financially, Mummy the wallet will be firmly unavailable..... luckily she has been living almost independently for about two years, at home but pretty much alone, so she accepted that graciously. I have great hopes for her in the adult world. She arranged an apartment rental for herself and two friends and when the central heating boiler needed replacing, explained to the landlord, in an email, that she would find it hard to justify continuing to pay the rent if this was not done as a matter of urgency - boiler replaced within a week!
    They do grow up, but need some persuasion along the way!!

    Great blog!
    896 days ago
    Wow I LIKE that!!!! I guess I need to check that up and draw my own contract for my 2 Adult sons!!
    896 days ago
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