Wednesday, April 23, 2014

MCFARLAND: They’re back! (Living under one roof)

By REBECCA MCFARLAND, Reaching Out | 5/1/2013

As I turned the calendar to May, thoughts of graduations, weddings, family vacations, barbecues and family gatherings came to mind. For some, May marks the transition to adulthood — graduating from high school or college.

In many families, these rites of passage signify that a dependent child has become independent and ready to live on his or her own. However, 56 percent of men and 43 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 24 live with one or both parents. And an estimated 65 percent of college graduates are returning to live with their families, hoping to have free room and board while they search for jobs. While most parents are willing to let their children move back home, this type of living arrangement requires some ground rules.

As I turned the calendar to May, thoughts of graduations, weddings, family vacations, barbecues and family gatherings came to mind. For some, May marks the transition to adulthood — graduating from high school or college.

In many families, these rites of passage signify that a dependent child has become independent and ready to live on his or her own. However, 56 percent of men and 43 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 24 live with one or both parents. And an estimated 65 percent of college graduates are returning to live with their families, hoping to have free room and board while they search for jobs. While most parents are willing to let their children move back home, this type of living arrangement requires some ground rules.

Every family has unique issues that make life as a nuclear family interesting and, at times, challenging. For example, siblings not living at home might feel left out, or they might assume that the brother or sister who has returned home is taking financial advantage of their parents. Some conflicts are based on generational preferences, such as playing loud music or constantly talking or texting on a cell phone.

Like anything new and different, it takes time to adjust to living together under one roof again. It’s important to be patient. Relationships typically progress and improve as family members get used to each other. And whether you’re the parent or the adult child, you’ll want to have some talks before the move to ease the transition and prevent conflicts down the road.

When you sit down to talk, tackle the major issues upfront. How long is the grown child — or grown children — planning to stay? Will they contribute financially? How much? Who will do what to help out?

Discuss what might seem like minor issues too. It often is the little things that aren’t mentioned early that can become a source of irritation later. Such topics can include what you eat or don’t, what’s yours and what’s not in the refrigerator, who feeds the cat or walks the dog, who does the laundry and when.

If you’re the grown child living back home, you might have been a forgetful and self-centered teenager. Hopefully you’ve come a long way since then. The trouble is, your parents might still see you as that “other person.” When you’re living together under one roof, it’s important to show your parents the new you. A good place to start is to ask them sincerely for their advice. You might also consider trying the following:

• Pitch in more. Complete chores without being asked, and do what’s asked of you in good time and in good humor.

• Don’t take your parents for granted. Say “thank you” often for all the things they provide.

• Clean up after yourself — and then some. Do a little more than people expect you to do.

• Anticipate the needs of others. Call on the way home to see if you should pick up groceries or dry cleaning. If you use your parent’s car, fill it up with gas.

• Step up for big chores. Tell a parent to relax and take it easy. Say you’ll mow the lawn, scrub the floor and wash the car — and follow through.

• Offer to add more to your weekly or monthly contribution when you can (and before you’re asked). No paycheck? Offer to provide a helpful service.

Take the initiative in your free time to fix something — a broken railing or loose screw, for example. Offer to clean the garage or paint a room that could use sprucing up.

Rebecca McFarland is the family and consumer sciences extension agent for Frontier Extension District No. 11, which serves Franklin County. For more information or questions about food safety, call her at (785) 229-3520 or email rmcfarla@ksu.edu

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