Before you move back in:
- Have a conversation to come up with reasonable expectations. During college, you have been able to come and go at all hours and have guests overnight, but that is unlikely to work well for your parents. It is important to talk through issues in which there is likely to be disagreement.
- Begin to think about ground rules and boundaries as soon as possible. For example, your mother may want to know that you are generally not out till wee hours, and you may not want her unexpectedly coming into your room to clean. Intend to create an atmosphere of mutual respect and appreciation, knowing that you are saving money by being able to return home and that many of your fellow graduates are doing the same thing.
- Expect a combination of roommate and parent/child relationship. Keep in mind that your parents are likely to always see you as their child. Even though a roommate won’t ask where you are going each time you leave, your parents have a legitimate right to ask.
When you move in:
- Keep communication open as you all figure out how this is going to work.
- Talk about money even though it is awkward. Will they want you to pay rent or help with groceries? What about health insurance or gas? Talking now helps prevent many problems and misunderstandings down the line.
- Together, set some ground rules (curfew, helping with chores, privacy for your room, visitors) as you define your changing relationship with your parents. Agree to meet to talk about how your agreements are working.
- Set a time frame for how long you are planning on living there. This is also important for your goals as you launch into the working world. Talk openly with your parents about how long you see yourself there. Three months till graduate school? Six months till you find a job? One year? Be sure to check back in with your parents when the end of the time frame approaches.
- Find your own support networks separate from your parents to avoid feeling isolated.
- Update your relationship with your parents. College has changed you into someone a bit different than the child who left at the beginning of the year. Everyone needs time and patience to figure it out.
Reviewed by Eric Murphy, WVU Extension Service Families and Health Extension Agent, Monongalia County