Recently, my daughter and her husband moved in with us, along with their dog (her hubby is deploying to Afghanistan for 9 months). We aren't super excited about the dog (cute and good as he is) because he's large and tears up the yard even when he's not trying, by shear size, but we understand that dirt can mend the yard later, so we're willing to allow this. My daughter and I have had a stressed relationship for years, which appeared to be getting better with the distance between us. I feel she displaces her anger/frustration of things in her life against me. Now that she's moved back in, she's starting to act like her old self again. I think it has a lot to do with hormones, but even so, I am prepared to give her walking papers the second she calls me anything but mom or a valid respectful variation. Should I inform her of this rule or should I just give her the "boot" if/when she uses her fowl mouth to call me whatever she feels like calling me at the moment?
From: Vanessa, Buckley
It's your home, so you have ever right to expect a degree of civility, decorum and respect which, by the way, you need to model. On the other hand, she's old enough to be married with a husband in the service so she deserves to be treated like an adult. That means for you to be open, honest and above-board with her, as you would with any other adult.
Since it sounds like there have been issues between you in the past, consider doing this with a contract, similar to a lease between a landlord and tenant. For instance, you agree to give her x, y and z -- room & board, run of the yard for the dog, respect for her privacy, space in 'fridge, storage in the basement etc. In return, you expect a, b, and c. This is your opportunity to set out your expectations, rules about the dog, perhaps; how much, if anything, she's contributing to costs; about cleaning up after herself in the kitchen & bathroom; about her language.
What I like about a contract is that it's clean and objective, set down in paper in black and white, with signatures to show that you both agree to its clauses. If this feels artificial, I still would urge you to be clear about your expectations. Otherwise, it could feel to her as if you are being arbitrary.
There's a book you might find helpful called, "Don't bite your tongue, How to foster rewarding relationships with your adult children," by Dr. Ruth Nemzoff.
For all sorts of reasons these days, especially economic ones, lots of other families have adult children moving back home. I hope we hear from some of you about how you're making this work.
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