Even adult children returning home to a blended family benefit from some rules and boundaries. Adult stepchildren graduating from college today face a tough job market in which to succeed. College kids are returning home, for a place to stay until they can launch their careers. Even tougher, are the kids who return to a blended family, one with a new step parent and step siblings.
Boundaries and rules established and agreed upon, before adult stepchildren return to the nest, are essential for the successful blended family. Adult stepchildren can function well living at home with stepparents when presented with clear expectations.
Focus on the positive in your blended family
Focus on the positive when adult children ask to return home. Adult children, in most cases, don’t want to ask biological parents if they can move in with a stepfamily, and you might consider it a compliment to your successful remarriage when they do. Clearly, your adult child feels comfortable living with the stepparent, and that is flattering. Stepmom or stepdad needs to acknowledge the compliment, and make sure to let the adult stepchild know you are eager to spend more time with him.
As well, after the biological parent and stepparent agree upon a set of rules and boundaries, biological parents should lead a discussion about them with the adult stepchild in advance of the move-in date. Adult stepchildren are often willing to comply with rules when they know biological parents and stepparents are happy to have them around.
Rules and boundaries should be reasonable and consistent
Adult stepchildren are, technically, adults, and should be treated as such. However, the adult stepchild who has returned home and is dependent upon the biological parent and stepmom or stepdad, should obey and respect parental authority. Rules and boundaries agreed upon in advance could include guidelines for
o dining and laundry
o a discussion of career plans
o an agreement to actively search and find a job by within a set period
o housekeeping chores
o an agreement to pay rent after six months
o an agreement to a raise in rent after 12 months
o guidelines for guests
o an expectation of quiet after a designated time or else a curfew will be established
o and an expectation that adults will be treated with respect.
Other discussion topics could include the use of an auto as well as guidelines for gas, insurance, and upkeep; smoking, drinking and girlfriend or boyfriend visits; as well as private time for parent and stepparent. Adult stepchildren who bend or even break established rules should be held accountable with another scheduled family meeting.
Road to independence should be paved with love and encouragement for your adult child
Adult stepchildren moving home is not unusual in light of the job market, and he or she should not be made to feel as if they have failed at adulthood. This won’t help a stepchild and it certainly won’t bode well for the blended family. Once rules and boundaries have been agreed upon in a stepfamily, welcome and encourage your adult stepchild into the remarriage. Make sure he spends individual time with his biological parent and offer positive support in his job search.
Stepchildren, especially adult stepchildren, need their own space, and should be afforded privacy and respect of their belongings by other stepkids. Adult stepchildren who return to the home may need extra help on the road to independence; stepmoms and stepdads who are part of that journey pave the way to a smooth stepfamily existence.
Adult stepchildren who return home are an unfortunate result of the economic downturn, but it doesn’t have to be a miserable experience. Biological and stepparents have to discuss and agree upon rules, before the adult stepchild moves in. An adult stepchild is usually amenable to parental guidelines when the discussion is led by the biological parent and assisted by the stepparent.
Adult children who return home to a blended family can find success and independence within a remarriage when expectations are clear and rules are well planned.