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If you have an adult child living at home what are your expectations? My DD, 18 is moving back from college++

at the end of the semester after having a mental health crisis. Anxiety, depression, short episode of cutting....she was lonely on campus, and had just ended a long relationship with a boy from home.
She has been home from the hospital (on meds short term) this week before going back to campus, and went out with a boy she knows from home and he has said he wants to date her (again), but we have encouraged/implored her to not get serious with anyone for a long time..she told us she said she was not ready. Another boy has also expressed interest in her. I feel somewhat protective of her right now in the dating area.
She should be busting her butt to get caught up so she doesn't have to take a "withdraw" from classes. I'm not seeing it, and it's pissing me off.
She agreed to go back next semester and commute, but after that may want to "take a break."
We inherited a car for her, but we expect her to pay for gas and help with the insurance.
My Dh and I are not ok with this unless she is working full time or doing something of value full time. She has expressed an interest in a public service volunteer position with the Peacecorps or Americorps. Sounds good, but makes me nervous that she wont like it and quit if it's not a good fit.
What do expect of your adult child when living at home, and under the circumstances, what can we expect from our DD?

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 8:03 AM on Apr. 18, 2013 in Adult Children (18+)

Answers (13)
  • I think the only thing you can really expect of her is for her to pay for her own gas and insurance, and if you're so inclined, make her pay some kind of rent and help out around the house with things like dishes and cleaning. I don't think you can really demand she not date, she's 18, and you can't control her life in that kind of detail. As far as's iffy. I suppose you could make being in school a condition of living at home, but the thing is, college just isn't right for some people. If it turns out she's one of those people who just doesn't really want to go to college, are you going to be comfortable basically throwing her out on the street? I think telling her she needs to be in school OR working is reasonable.

    If she had a mental health breakdown, maybe you should also be speaking with a therapist or someone to find out what they think is reasonable. You may need to be more lenient than you otherwise would

    Answer by wendythewriter at 8:23 AM on Apr. 18, 2013

  • while she gets back to a more stable state of mind. A therapist would be able to help you figure out how to walk that fine line between enabling her and being too hard on her.

    Answer by wendythewriter at 8:24 AM on Apr. 18, 2013

  • Our boys have to either go to school full time or work full time. They have to pay their own gas and insurance. If they're in school full time they don't have to make a financial contribution to the household, but if they choose to work and not go to school, then they pay a small amount to help cover the cost of their food and utilities...I don't call it rent, because it still costs us to have them there.

    They have to follow house rules, be home by a certain time at night, or call by a certain time to let us know if they are staying elsewhere, take care of their rooms and their bathroom, and have some set chores that they have to do as well.

    Every adult in the house has to do their share, and if they want the privileges of being an adult, we expect them to take on appropriate adult responsibilities.

    Answer by ohwrite at 8:58 AM on Apr. 18, 2013

  • You walk a very thin line at that age and in your situation because on one hand she is obviously not making the best choices right now ans still probably needs a lot of guiding, but on the other hand she is legally an adult and you run a great risk of her rebelling if you try to give her too many rules. I wish I had the answer but I will say it sounds like you're doing a great job as a loving mother who only wants the best for her. It may take a couple years but eventually she WILL see that! In the mean time, show her what being an adult means and keep a level of expectation with her (like you said, paying her own gas, etc.) Good luck!!

    Answer by maecntpntz219 at 9:27 AM on Apr. 18, 2013

  • Just keep in mind.... what you'd like her to do and what she is able to do right now are two very different things!!!

    Getting a job when she is home is a good idea but you have to be realistic about that.... as employers will be. They don't want short term help, especially in FT positions. Realistically her age and experience will qualify her for a PT job... start there!

    Answer by Crafty26 at 9:27 AM on Apr. 18, 2013

  • Thanks all. This is a girl who got 2100 on her SATs, so not being in school seems to us a waste of a good mind, but yes, until she's stable, school might not be the best place for her. We hope she feels better about it if she commutes.

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 9:49 AM on Apr. 18, 2013

  • Your daughter may be very smart but some kids are just not cut out for college. It's an entirely different place then high school. It's not a waste of a good mind for her to choose to get a job, join Peace Corps, etc. They are all educations in their own way.

    As a society we are tending to push all kids into college even if it's not the best place for them. These same students end up dropping out of college with a large debt load and no degree. Instead we need to help them learn what they want to do in life and how is the best way to get there. It might have been Vocational Sshool instead of the traditional High School, local college, armed forces, apprenticeships, work, etc. As long as they learn a way to support theirselves and be happy we need to be happy for them.

    Answer by baconbits at 10:33 AM on Apr. 18, 2013

  • Thanks, Bacon. What you say is so true sometimes. My DD isn't the type to rough it and I hear the corps are tough, so we worry that she isn't cut out for that either. My DH never finished at MIT and regrets it tons. Sigh...we'll wait and see.

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 10:59 AM on Apr. 18, 2013

  • Has she been diagnosed with any disorder? The cutting sounds like she may suffer from BPD. If so, then you may be expecting from her something she can't give you. Sometimes parents set up young adults to fail when they expect too much of them. Then the adult child feels guilty for letting the parents down and follows through with more bad behavior because it's expected that the adult child will fail yet again. Going through men, not following through on her educational commitment, thinking of ways to run away and solve situations are all symptoms of this disorder. See if you can get permission from her to discuss her mental diagnosis with her doctor. If she was not tested while in the hospital see if you can get her tested. Many females with BPD are brilliant. They just have a disorder they don't understand so have no coping skills for dealing with situations. I'm not a doctor. I've just had lots of experience with this.

    Answer by admckenzie at 4:13 AM on Apr. 19, 2013

  • Your house, your rules.

    I think it is reasonable to expect her to be occupied full-time, whether that's full-time school, full-time work, or part-time of each. It is reasonable to lay out certain expenses for her to cover (car, insurance, rent). It is reasonable to outline house chores that need to be accomplished every day or week.

    However, she is also an adult. She probably doesn't need a curfew, but it's okay to ask her to let you know if she will be home late. You can advise her on relationships but not control them.

    Answer by Mousuke at 6:12 AM on Apr. 19, 2013

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