Should I Allow My Adult Child with Mental Illness to Move Back into My Home?
As parents we are often faced with the challenging decision as to how to best support our adult children. How much help is too much help? How do we decide when we are helping and when we are hurting the growth and maturity process that we so desire in our children? When you compound this question with factors such as chronic medical and mental health concerns, the picture can become even more difficult to sort out.
When thinking this question through, there are several factors to consider:
What is the purpose of your adult child coming home? Are you extending your home as a way to help save money, to provide a layer of supervision, and or to help you with various responsibilities? These are all valid purposes that I recommend are clarified and discussed between you and your adult child. It is sometimes wise to write out the purpose to ensure that there is agreement. One of the most common reasons for living arrangements to be unsuccessful is due to the lack of agreement around Issues of purpose.
How long are you willing to house your adult child? Are you expecting it to be a short term solution to an immediate crisis? Or, have you decided that she/he can stay as long as they want or need your help? How will you both know that it is time for her/him to move on? I would strongly urge you to have an open conversation with your adult child, clarifying your intention and inquiring as to how long they anticipate utilizing housing assistance from you. The best scenario will be one in which you both understand the expectations of the other and are working on being respectful of those expectations.
Unmet expectation often arises from a lack of clarity around the responsibilities that are being ascribed to another. Before your adult child comes home, very clear expectations around who is responsible for what should be discussed and agreed upon. For example, are you expecting a financial contribution? If so, how much and how often do you expect payment? Are there household chores that you expect your child to participate in completing? If so, what are they, how often do you want them done and is there a special way to do them? It may be important to think of your adult child as an adult first and your child second when thinking about living together. This could aid in helping them continue to mature as adults, especially when and if they leave your home again.
It’s important to get help in thinking through the option of allowing your adult child with a mental illness to move back into your home. It is always appropriate to seek advice from professionals. In many instances your adult child with mental illness is involved in treatment and may have a team of
professionals who are working with him/her and can shed light on this dilemma. For example, at MHA,we regularly engage family members and important individuals whom our members have identified to help them achieve their goals.
The long and short of it is that the decision to allow your adult child with mental illness to move home is a personal and individual decision based on many factors. Unfortunately, there isn’t a set answer that will fit every situation. However, with careful consideration, open and honest upfront discussion, and input from professionals, the best decision for you and your loved one can be attained.
Sylvia Wright, LMSW
Adult Treatment and Rehabilitative Services