This blog post has been contributed by Renuka Vaidyanathan.
I was an empty nester for a brief while until my older daughter came back home to work and live with us. While we were very happy that she was back home after college for another spell, it did take us awhile to get used to having her live with us again.The truth is, when an adult child moves back home (whether it is for a short period or an indefinitely long period), it’s not an ideal situation for anyone. Everyone involved should respect one another’s needs, boundaries and authority. Once we settled into a rhythm with Dhriti, things were fine again. My younger daughter Akshi has only been home sporadically since she left for college in August 2012; although she has long summer breaks, she chose to work last summer in the US and spent very little time with us. She is home again from college and will be with us this entire summer. Family times are here again, yay! Or are they?
A parent-child relationship, while being one of the most beautiful relationships of love, give and take (one gives and the other takes, ha ha) is often fraught with tension, especially during the child’s teenage years, when parents and children don’t seem to agree on anything and are constantly at loggerheads with one another. Things do get better by the time the child leaves for college. There is the excitement of a new life to look forward to, on both sides. After the child leaves, there is longing on both sides for the comfort of old times, but slowly, both parties fall into their new patterns and get settled into their new routines. And things are definitely not the same again when an adult child comes back to live at home, for short term breaks or for a longer term, as the case may be. After the euphoria of having the child back dies down, reality kicks in and a lot of adjustment is called for on both sides.
The parents should treat the children as grown-ups and the children should reciprocate by behaving like grown-ups. Curfews still exist as it is the parents’ home and their rules still work. Children must respect the fact that if they don’t come home when they say they will, it will still cause the parents worry. Meals will be prepared for children, but if they make other plans, they should inform their parents; if they make plans to eat dinner with their parents, they should honour those plans as they would any plans made with a friend. Housekeeping and laundry should not be taken for granted – the adult child must chip in with her share of the housework.