"We need to talk." That's what my friend C told her 28-year-old son when he moved back into the bedroom of his youth. He wasn't home because of financial challenges, a career in stall or an inability to manage on his own.. Rather, he and his girlfriend were planning to move in together and get married. The lease was up on his apartment; she was in graduate school in another city until May. They were waiting for her to get a nursing job offer at one of the hospitals in the area before they figured out where to hunt for an apartment.
He would be home for four months. C wanted to make the house rules clear. She'd just "hosted" her younger son for a year while he tried to figure out the road he was going to travel. He'd been sullen and unhelpful and the "stay" had been fairly unpleasant.
Here's what she set out with her older son. It had nothing to do with groceries, doing the dishes or paying rent. They were general principles that she felt cleared the air and set a positive tone for his time at home. They are so simple and clear that I thought I'd share them with those of you who are expecting the unexpected extended home visit of a grown child
Rule 1: Pick up after yourself, especially in public spaces. Don't leave socks, shirts, or other personal items in the living room or family room or dirty dishes in the kitchen sink.
Rule 2: Be helpful. If you see something that needs to be done, do it. Don't wait to be asked. If the kitchen garbage bin is full, take out the trash.
Rule 3: Be pleasant. A friendly greeting, an occasional smile, an acknowledgement that the parents exist and are people deserving of courtesy--these are things that can make a home-stay tolerable for all parties.
Rule 4: Make sure the toilet seat is down in the guest bathroom.