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It can be difficult to know how to treat your children when they come back home after uni or start their first real job after school. Should you maintain the rules you gave them when they were 16 or 17 or should you treat them as adults and give them no rules at all? It is all about finding the right balance, giving them the freedom that they need and expect but maintaining enough restrictions to ensure that you feel comfortable.
The most important thing is not to treat them like a child. They are not a child anymore, and treating them like one will just push them away. Give them all the privileges of being an adult but all the responsibilities too. Rather than giving them fixed rules such as get in by this time, do your chores or no boyfriends in bedrooms. Sit them down and talk to them about respecting your house and your feelings. Tell them how it makes you feel if they scream the house down at 3 AM or stay out for days without telling where they are. Most importantly make them understand that if they want to be treated like adults, they can no longer slob around the house or treat you like their own personal slaves, respect is a two-way street!
There are a few things to look forward to and be wary of when it comes to your child growing up but remaining at home.
They will have their own money.
This means they will hopefully stop asking you for money. They will be proud of their ability to buy themselves nice clothes, an iPad or a fancy new laptop, or even really nice Christmas presents for the family. This is a bonus because you can now spend more money on yourself. You could even charge them a nominal amount of rent, just to keep them in check and ensure that they understand how much things cost. It might cause an argument but a small rent at home is 100 times better for them than a massive rate somewhere else and it will help to redefine your new relationship.
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You are not off the hook just yet.
You’re kids will still ask you for money, it might be the odd £20 every now and then or it might be more. If this happens just play it by ear. There will come a point when they need to stop spending and you should let this happen naturally. It is a learning curve for them and understanding money will definitely benefit them later on. You don’t want to let them run to you at every sign of financial trouble, because they will always see you as a fallback. However, if they run out of money through no fault of their own, still give them a bit of a helping hand. The likelihood is, they will not be earning all that much and, after all, what are parents for.
If they love their job, they will be a joy to live with.
If they really love the job they have got, you will see their attitudes change. As become more dedicated to their jobs, they will stop being late and you’ll no longer have to wake them up or make them iron their work clothes. They might come home with an interesting story about something they accomplished at work. If they do, congratulate them and let them tell the rest of the family about it, don’t jump in and steal their thunder. Don’t take away that spark from them.
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If they hate their job, they might be a nightmare.
If they don’t really enjoy their job your kids may revert to that teenage grumpy phase. If they are a bit huffy and fed up, don’t ask them how their day was, it will only lead to an argument. Don’t be intrusive or wind them up the wrong way when they are in a bad mood. However, don’t let them behave like they are 15 if they want to be treated like a grown up. Be civil to them and make sure the are and hopefully that should avert any inflammatory arguments.
Their independence might worry you.
Even if you think of yourself as a “cool” parent, having a child back from uni who is now used to staying out until 3AM every other night, will probably unnerve you a little.
You need to understand that they are not a child anymore and they they now know how to look after themselves. Don’t push them away by continually asking them where they are or what they are doing. The old-maxim, “no news is good news” is invariably true. If something was really wrong they would call you, or at least a policeman might. They also need to make their own mistakes so that they can learn from them. Just knowing that you would be there if something went really wrong is enough for them and should be enough for you.