Need Help With Boundaries

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by ML, Mar 23, 2009.

  1. ML

    ML Guest

    Hello group. I am new to the PE world because difficult child adult stepson moved in about 6 weeks ago into our basement.

    I came into his life when he was 18 and he is now 26. He's lived with us before for short periods of time and it's been difficult. It's like having an angry moody teenager back in the house again. Strange how they resort back into the "child" role.

    I have several friends with kids about this age so I know that the sense of entitlement is pretty typical. They resent it when you start expecting them to be responsible for their self care like paying for food or rent. He was out on his own for a couple of years but as soon as they're back they want to be taken care of while at the same time independent and coming and going at will.

    He lost his job but his unemployment is about 1600 a month and he has only one bill for about 200. Which brings me to the first question. I want to charge him about 250 to cover the increase in our food bill and increase in utilities. He seems reluctant. husband won't push it and I don't feel comfortable being the bad guy. But frankly our budget can't afford the extra. So I guess I will have to be the landlord.

    The other problem I have is that he sleeps all day. During the week when we're at work I don't see it but on the weekends he doesn't get up till about 5pm. It's not a good example for manster for one thing. BUT, is this my business?

    I don't understand what is okay to expect and what I need to let go of. It's not my child so I think this makes it harder.

    I'm pretty much someone who struggles with being too nice but I'm not experienced with having an adult difficult child. I'm still working on being tougher parent with 10 year old. I don't know the rules with all this and I'm looking for help.

    Any words of advice will be appreciated.


  2. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    in my humble opinion, you and your spouse need to get on the same page about what you will require of your stepson.

    This might mean a monthly payment toward expenses in the home, as well as some day to day maintenance/cleaning work with-i the home. I would not have him do work in the home that is clearly outside of the normal clean up duties...but it is fair to expect him to clean up after himself and to help with every day type things like vacumming or sweeping the front porch.

    I think it is fair to ask that he contribute to extra expenses now that he is there. A small payment is reasonable and in fact, is something he should be willing, able and in fact...given his is unfortunate that he has not offered to do this. By both of you making this request of him, keeping it reasonable and sticking to your guns, you will go a long way to helping him in the future.

    If you and your husband can work together on this, it shouldn't be a big deal.

    Honestly, if he i(your son) s not willing to do this (unless he has something seriously wrong with his health), I would consider asking him to make alternative arrangements rather than living in your home. If this gets to be an "issue," perhaps a few sessions of family counseling or marriage counseling would be in order.

    Also, does your stepson have access to mental health services or some sort of counselor? I wouldn't spend too much energy on this...but if there is some way he can get this type of help, it might be beneficial to him. He sounds like he might be depressed. Also, I would encourage him to look diligently foranother job of any kind as soon as possible. This will likely make him feel better.

    Wishing you and your family well.
    Lasted edited by : Mar 23, 2009
  3. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    ML, this is a very hard one.

    First off, I don't think that you should be the one who has to enforce the rules, however much say you have in establishing them. husband should be the one to communicate the expectations and enforce them if necessary. Having you do it encourages triangulation. It puts you in the role of the Wicked Stepmother, and lets difficult child complain to his dad about you. Not a good situation for any of you.

    You and husband definitely need to be on the same page as to expectations.

    Now, a few suggestions about what you should be expecting.

    I think $250 rent is quite reasonable. Certainly much less than he would be paying for an apartment or something, and it helps to cover your added expenses. I think this is non-negotiable as it helps to keep things in the adult realm.

    I also think that you should decide on the house rules that you expect to be followed, the same way you would for a stranger or acquaintance renting space in your house.
    For example:
    1) Dishes to be done within a certain time frame after meals are complete
    2) Meals are served at x, y and z times. If you miss meal time, you're on your own
    3) Access to laundry facilities is between a and b. Do not leave your clothes unattended in the machines or they will be removed.
    4) Tidy up after yourself. You make a mess in the kitchen, you clean it. Etc.

    Other than those basic rules, I would leave everything else alone. It's hard, but what you want to establish is more of a roommate or a landlord/tenant situation than a parent-child situation. It takes a lot of the tension out.

    Hope this helps,
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I can tell you what I'd expect from my grown kids and it is not my experience that most of them want to be Mommy's Little Kid again at 26!!! Lord, all my kids were long gone by then and didn't WANT to come back because they valued their independence.
    If they came back, I'd expect rent, a full time job, chores, and adhering to my house rules. They would pay all their own bills and help with food. We're talking 26 here, not 18. 18 is a world of difference from 26. If my grown kid wanted to live here without contributing and sleeping all day, he'd find his luggage on the front lawn and I wouldn't feel a bit guilty. Not at age 26! In four years, this man will be 30! You don't want to raise a perpetual child.
  5. goldenguru

    goldenguru Active Member

    I can only share what has worked for our family:

    Our son came home to live with us for a period of 6 months to do an internship toward his college degree. He was 21 years old at the time. He was making decent money (about $500 - $600 per week depending on the amount of overtime). We required that he pay rent to the tune of $500 per month because that is an approximate cost of housing in the area.

    I did not require him to do 'extra chores' around the house because he was paying us rent. I did expect common courtesies such as picking up his own dishes, keeping his room reasonably in order - as in no food under the bed, and a clear fire escape :). I did allow him to eat with us - as he is our son and was going to college and was adhering to personal goals, etc.

    We didn't have any 'rules' per say. Certainly no curfews, etc. Again, just common courtesies like if you're not coming home tonight, please call me. He's a good kid and truthfully it was never a problem. Did he sleep a lot on the weekends? Yeah - but he wasn't disturbing us - so whatever.

    Your situation: I believe hubby needs to be 'the enforcer' or at least behind you 100%. I would hope that his whole plan is not to collect unemployment and sleep all day. I would hope that he is actively pursuing other work or college or something productive.

    My BFF has a brother who is 40 years old. He works a couple of days per week - sometimes. Other than that, he's home hanging out with his parents. It's a perpetual nightmare for the parents. Don't go there - it's not nice.
  6. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I don't require alot out of my grown at home kids, mostly consideration. (although they'd tell you differently)

    I require rent from them unless they are a full time student making passing grades. If Travis really does go back to college this fall, he is ticked he'll be required to pay rent anyway. Not my fault he put off college until he was 25.

    If a grown child goes crazy running up a certain bill, they may find themselves helping to also pay that bill. This has happened to Mr. Take 2 Hr Showers twice now. He's discovered filling the bathtub is cheaper. lol

    If a grown child snarfs up all the food other than meals.......they get the joy of replacing such food. (this is used with Travis most often)

    I don't care when they crawl out of bed.......but don't expect the house to revolve around your schedule. If you want to stay up all night, more power to you. But WE won't be quiet during the day, and YOU'D better be quite at night. Miss a meal, too bad so sad you know when they're served.

    I have a midnight cerfew. My house My rules. I'm not going to be up worrying when my grown kids are going to stumble home. Don't like it, move out.

    Pick up after yourself. (we're still working on this one. lol)

    And that's pretty much it. It works for us.

  7. ML

    ML Guest

    Thank you so much everyone.

    DaisyL I'm so glad to hear you say that you still charge rent if your 25 year old goes back to school. My stepson, J, 26 as I said, is discussing this as an option and I wondered if I was being unfair still expecting a small amount of rent.

    The rent will cover his food and utilities. I thought it was reasonable but wanted to hear it from the "pros" (you). I really am new to the world of having an adult difficult child in the house. He's matured a lot over the years I've known him and I genuinely care about him. His mom was a drug addict who was never really available to her two sons and husband raised them alone. He's not really all that fond of women in general but we get alone fairly well.

    I can overlook the sleeping all day and agree that I won't be quiet during the day. Life happens during daylight hours in my home.

    husband and I agree on rent of $200 $250 so that's good. I will make husband be the landlord in terms of asking for rent.

    So far it's very different this time than when he lived with us before. For one thing husband is sober (6 months now!) and he and I are in a much better place in our marriage.

    I really appreciate your feedback and feel pretty solid in my expectations now. Sometimes you just need reassurance that they're reasonable.

    Love and appreciation,

  8. standswithcourage

    standswithcourage New Member

    Wow I sure wish I had learned how to do that! I have to applaude you for being so firm in your boundary. So many of us live in chaos and think that is the only way.
  9. Rhonda

    Rhonda slightly wilted Magnolia

    Good luck, sounds like you are on the right track. I highly recommend reading a book called "Setting Boundaries with our Adult Children" by Allison Bottke. Warning: it is Christian based.. that is my only complaint because it will put off those who are not.

    But the book is invaluable for common sense, take care of yourself, what to look for in your adult kids, how to set boundaries, how to love them inspite of all, etc...

    Otherwise these ladies/gents have laid it out there as well you could ask for...

  10. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Bottom line is that it's your home. HOME. Not a halfway house or a motel.

    I agree with charging him rent and setting down some basic guidelines for living under your roof. Personally, the sleeping in until 5PM would really REALLY bug me and I would be inclined to say something about how it is not a good example for manster. It isn't and if he's going to be an adult role model in your home (by choice or not) then he is responsible to a degree.

    I charge my girls rent, they pay their own insurance, they also contribute to the food expense by buying their own special items. The also help out with chores and keep reasonable hours. My rule is the house is locked at 11PM Sunday through Thursday and 1AM Friday and Saturday. If they can't make it home by those hours, then they find other arrangements. I need my sleep and peace. If they stay up past those hours, then they must do something quiet because all electronic devices are turned off at my bedtime. I hate the clickety-clack of the keyboard when I'm trying to sleep and the muffled sound of a tv or stereo keeps me up. For $250/month, hey, they can go try and find someplace else to live.

    Best of luck, hang tough and stay strong. Get your H on the same page with you BEFORE you lay this out to stepson.
  11. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    My 27 year old son lives under our roof. He comes and goes as he pleases but he pays us rent and also kicks in for groceries. He pays for his own car and all expenses associated with it. He does his own laundry and prepares his own meals if he is not home when we eat. His room is His room. I do not enter it unless asked to and I do not clean it. That is left up to him and he isn't very good about it but I keep the door closed so I don't see the mess. I give him plenty of warning when we are going to have company. It is his choice to clean it or not. If I need to move him into a smaller room for a weekend due to overnight guests (not often but it happens since my family all live in other states) then I do all the cleaning and laundering of the linens. Otherwise it is entirely his responsibility. Other than his room and his dishes and laundry there are no other chores expected of him. At one point we had a problem with him drinking our beer and wine but we told him that he wasnot allowed to and that stopped. I think he though of it as in the same catagory as food. -RM
  12. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I'm with Nomad. Your husband should be beholden to you, not his son. "Forsaking all others..." It's time that husband understands where his loyalties should be.

    Above and beyond what type of example he is setting for Manster, and that he is wasting his life at your expense, he should be expected to contribute to the household. I don't think I'd sweat the sleeping thing, because once I gave him the rent bill, I think he'd be moving out. But, I'd charge significantly more than $250 if he's eating $200 in food. I assume he is taking showers, using soap, shampoo, laundry, electricity, phone, computer, etc. I would want to charge closer to $500 - $600. But, whatever amount you are comfortable with is right. ;)

    Honestly, I don't think that's an unreasonable amount for a person taking in $1,600 a month with only a $200 obligation to pay, especially if they are not contributing in any other meaningful way. I mean, you wouldn't let a stranger live there for free, and that's essentially what he is being in the basement to your family.

    Good luck getting your man to step up and do the right thing.
  13. ML

    ML Guest

    I want to thank all of your for responding to my post. I needed to hear everything all you have said. Love and hugs, ML
  14. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    ML- I think you are doing great and am delighted to hear that husband is in agreement.

    Question: if he is sleeping all day, how can he be job hunting? Is he on a temporary furlough and will be called back after a period of time? If not, his unemployment won't go on forever and pretty soon you'll have an adult sleeping all day, paying no rent because he won't have any income. If that is the case, I would urge you and husband to make sure that job hunting/getting another job is part of the requirement of him living with you. He needs to start this now because you never know how long it will be until he finds another job. Do you think your husband would support that stance?

    Last edited: Mar 31, 2009
  15. ML

    ML Guest

    Good point, Suz. I will talk to husband about it. He won't have any trouble with it philosophically. But I have noticed he's afraid to approach difficult child directly at times. I think he's afraid of a reaction. J is very moody and grumpy kind of like husband but husband has made tons of progress these past 6 months with his program and sponsor. I have a different husband today and he's someone I like and respect.

    husband has a lot of guilt with his kids. And frankly they have resentment towards him at times. I try to stand back from that as best I can because it doesn't involve me. This was all so much easier before J moved back in. I just don't see how anything good can come of this. But I'm trying to be kind and loving and accepting.

    I think encouraging J to look for a job is a must and I thank you for suggesting it :)
  16. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I'm glad to hear that your husband is doing better. From my own personal experience as a parent who has guilt and as a daughter who has resentment, the best thing your husband can do for him and his kids is to apologize and keep moving forward. Guilt is a draining and useless emotion, unless you haven't made amends. None of us can change the poor decisions we made in the past, but we can be better people today and in the future.

    His son is a grown man, and he should be able to understand this. It will also allow him to realize that he doesn't always have to be the guy who sleeps all day in his parent's basement, he can be better than that. None of us think that is what we want to grow up to be. We don't always get to live our dream, but even if we don't become a lawyer or a doctor we eventually learn that we can be happy with the choices we are making.
  17. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Need help with Boundaries - with a 26 year old?

    How about some flourescent marking paint, some caution tape and a few road flares?

    Your husbands guilt and his kids resentment is NO bearing on you and Manster. I think a date of move out needs to be established. = and I would think if he's ONLY paying $250 - a month? OMG - He should be able to save up for first, last, security for a place of his own.

    If he cant? Then you are going to have a permanent house guest. THAT is going to be the problem. I would have liked to have seen the rules established and understood BEFORE he moved in -but live and learn.

    Seriously - even at 26 - you need to have a family meeting and establish the RULES - the consequences and a date for him to be fully independent again. Then make a pact with your hubby that there are reminder dates for his son - 3 months to move out - 2 months to move out - 1 month to move out - 3 weeks - 2 weeks - next week - and then - gone. And make SURE you check the calendar - because you don't want to say - six months from today - and have it be Thanksgiving or close to Christmas - that WOULD make you out to be the heartless step mom.

    DF has a daughter that is 27 - if she had to move in with us tomorrow? I would move out. So my hat's off to you.
  18. ML

    ML Guest

    You ladies are so wise. I will talk to husband about an exit strategy when I get back from Vegas. Love you xoxooxo ML
  19. standswithcourage

    standswithcourage New Member

    Yes ML there is a book I am reading called Setting Boundaries for your Adult Child by Allison Bottke. It is excellent. I suggest you buy it.