How to Survive and Thrive: Living With Your Young Adult Child

Many parents are familiar with “Failure to Launch,” the experience of a young adult who is not ‘moving forward’ in the way they, as parents, had hoped.  This phenomenon is especially difficult for parents with young adults with autism, executive functioning difficulties, ADHD, and other social or emotional issues.

Advance LA held a workshop for a full room of local parents eager to learn how they can survive and thrive with their adult children still living at home.  One important piece of this sometimes complicated relationship is to set boundaries. Firm, clear boundaries create reasonable expectations for behavior. This becomes the foundation for a living agreement.

There are three fundamental principles of a living agreement. 

All privileges come with responsibility. Parents will pay for cell phone costs if the young adult pays for shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste. If the young adult is paying rent to the parents, then parents cannot enter the young adult’s room if the door is closed.  There are consequences for not upholding these responsibilities. The young adult may have to pay for their text messages if they fail to provide for their daily hygiene.  Parents may have to pay $5 every time they enter the young adult’s room if the door is closed.  Download our Boundaries – Privileges – Consequences worksheet.

Pick and choose your battles. In the beginning, you should begin with one to three items. These should be smaller, easy to accomplish items.  The living agreement is a living document – it can and should evolve over time. As your adult child is able to take on additional responsibilities, they should be discussed and added to the agreement.

Set realistic expectations and consequences. This goes hand-in-hand with picking your battles.  Setting realistic, incremental expectations will allow your child a sense of accomplishment. Build on these smaller victories to reach larger triumphs. Being realistic with consequences is tough. Make sure that any consequences are able to be enforced.

A living agreement is a great tool for communicating your expectations with your young adult living at home. Some young adults may need additional help achieving independent living.  Advance LA offers a comprehensive Coaching Program. In addition, Live.Advance.LA is a transitional living program that can help transition young adults into college or internship and job opportunities in the community. Advance LA also offers Parent Support Groups. Contact us at 818.779.5198 or email us at AdvanceLA@thehelpgroup.org for more information on these and other programs.