agreement for living at home

(20 Posts)
lostwithouther Thu 07-May-15 09:53:55

hi, I'm looking for some input on this.

My wife died two years ago and I find parenting alone rather difficult, I just wonder if you can help with your opinion.

I have four children, the eldest lives away from home and moved out when she was 18. My youngest is 16 but I have twins (one male, one female) that are about to turn 18.

The problem is that the 18-year-olds are taking the proverbial "p..."!

They're constantly walking through the house with dirty shoes, leaving a mess everywhere, eating all of the food and leaving none for anyone else, refusing to share the chores etc

On the one hand they want to be treated like adults but then act like children.

I'm thinking I'm going to give them a contract/agreement for living at home. They talked about moving out but don't understand real life, so I thought I would give them a very short contract/agreement so that they get used to understanding what a rental agreement and its terms might be like.

It will set out rules about how much they are going to pay me in rent (a very low amount) what happens about cleaning ( I want to charge them to clean the carpet, for example), their responsibility for their rooms, saving water and electricity etc.

They then have three choices:
1. Accept these terms
2. Negotiate these terms
3. Not accept the terms and move out

On the one hand it seems like I would be teaching them life skills but on the other hand it seems like I might be being too strict, your thoughts about whether you have done anything like this are most appreciated.

Thank you

Cherryapple1 Thu 07-May-15 09:55:41

I don't think a contract is a good idea at all - this is not a business. But you do need to find ways of standing up for yourself. I don't think charging them to clean a carpet is going to earn you any respect at all. Sorry.

Roseformeplease Thu 07-May-15 09:57:40

I have to say, speaking as a former stroppy teen, that the business-like approach to the whole thing would make me very, very angry. My own father would have liked to try this and it misses all the complex emotions and feelings around relationships. Yes, they have to learn but I think there is a more human way of dealing with it.

Cherryapple1 Thu 07-May-15 10:02:48

I would stop buying food they want, don't do their laundry, shut the door on their messy rooms and if they don't tidy them - it doesn't get done. If they walk mess through the house I would insist it were cleaned up immediately. And if they refuse I would be telling them to find alternative accommodation. If you let them walk all over you they will.

SycamoreMum Thu 07-May-15 10:05:37

My dad and mum did this when I thought I could flex my attitude at home hmm. At the time I was so angry that they thought I was sooo wayward and I actually did leave. I was 19 at the time and studying and working part time as a travelling barmaid. A travelling barmaid doesn't earn much after buying things for uni so I ended up coming back home and agreeing with my parents rules. Now I look back they were not asking much at all. Let's see if I remember them: Keep room and area outside it tidy, let them know if I was coming home or not, give them £30 a week towards housekeeping and do food shop I think.

lostwithouther Thu 07-May-15 10:08:55

hi, thank you, I do value your input. Agreed, an agreement like this does miss all of the complex emotions and feelings around relationships however it isn't trying to address those… Those kind of things are addressed by me sitting down with them, taking time and talking.

This has also been going on for a long time, it's not as though I've suddenly just decided to put my foot down. I tried the gentle approach but feel that something more is required.

Who knows? :-)

lostwithouther Thu 07-May-15 10:11:07

Sycamoremum, yes, that's pretty much what in my agreement with the kids. I'm also not expecting them to pay anything unless they are working, if they are in full-time education I accept that money is extremely tight.

I'm also not asking too much (in my opinion) I'm not even bothered about their room being kept tidy. They can keep it as messy as they like but when they move out I expect it to be returned to me in the same condition that they moved in. If there is spilt coffee all over the floor I will expect them to pay to have it cleaned… I think that's fair.

Cherryapple1 Thu 07-May-15 10:37:06

expect it to be returned to me in the same condition that they moved in

this makes you sound more like a landlord than a father - sorry.

yellowdaisies Thu 07-May-15 10:47:48

Nothing wrong in having some house rules that you write down and get them to agree to. But what happens if they don't depends on whether they are still studying or whether they're now working. If they're still studying then you need sanctions for breaking them - eg no pocket money, no wifi, etc. Only if they're working would I ask them to pay rent, or suggest that they should move out if they won't agree to the house rules.

And I wouldn't charge them for new carpets - it does make it feel like they're living in your house, rather than that being their home. Carpets do get damanged eventually from things like coffee stains. That's just life. Buy them cheap rugs to put over the coffee stains and plan to replace the carpets some time in the future when they've left home.

18 is a difficult age - they do move between being like grown ups and being children at random times.

lostwithouther Thu 07-May-15 12:59:00

"expect it to be returned to me in the same condition that they moved in

this makes you sound more like a landlord than a father - sorry"

Agreed, Cherryapple1 it does sound more like a landlord than a father but when it comes to providing a roof over the head of an 18-year-old I believe that is exactly what I am.

It doesn't preclude me from being a father also, surely?

There are certainly aspects of what I'm suggesting that are extremely businesslike and landlord like, but I feel driven to it because of their lack of ability to respond to my softly, softly, please, please, please approach.

When someone walks through my hall for the 50th time with dirty shoes, after agreeing to never do it again, I start to wonder if just asking nicely and giving them a hug is the way forwards :-)

I do appreciate your comments though, it's exactly why I'm posting here, so thank you…

lostwithouther Thu 07-May-15 13:10:51

What is also important is that I work 8 AM till 6 PM (like most other people), what can often happen is that the instant I finish work I get on and cook tea, then clear away, then clear up, then get on with other chores.

I don't think it's unreasonable for an 18-year-old to take responsibility in these things - for example, doing their own washing (which all my kids do anyway), planning the weekly food shop, clearing up after themselves, cooking tea once a week etc

By putting it down in writing it just becomes clear as to what I'm expecting of them.

Claybury Thu 07-May-15 13:15:07

My DS is 17 and it really is a difficult age. ( actually I've been saying this for 4 years ....)
I'm afraid I don't have any advice because nothing has worked for us either. My teens do almost nothing around the home. The little portable Hoover is good because it is the only appliance DS will use.

As all your DC's are of a similar age - could you set out a simple rota of chores with all your names on for a few basic chores ? So it looks like you are all becoming equal partners in running the home ?

ivykaty44 Thu 07-May-15 13:17:43

Landlord
Chambermaid
Cook
Kitchen porter
Teacher
Nursemaid
Bank loan advisor
The list goes on as a parent you are all these things and more

But you can ask for a few things yourself, it needs to be a two way street ...

FannyFanakapan Thu 07-May-15 13:21:05

I think maybe this approach is too formal, but you could get the same effect by maybe listing all the chores that need doing, and assigning a person to each chore.

So they know that keeping the house tidy and everyone fed requires hoovering twice a week, dishes washed, food purchased, dinner prepared 7x a week etc.

Set the expectation that all these will need to be organised by the adults in the house, with some for the younger child, and so they need to step up. Set the expectation that if they dont pull their weight, they can leave.

Id also sit down with them and show them the household budget. How much spent on mortgage, council tax, broadband, skyTV, utilities, food, petrol, insurance. Tot it all up and let them know that you will expect a contribution to the cost of running a household once they are earning. Id also show them ads on eg gumtree that show how much a single room in a shared house will cost in your area, so they have a comparison.

They are adults. Its time to treat them as adults, but you can also use it as a life lesson in what it means to be an adult - someone who has to clear up his/her own mess, someone with financial responsibilities.

Cherryapple1 Thu 07-May-15 14:08:23

There is a middle ground between landlord and hugging parent.

I too have an 18 year old - and they hopefully have enough respect to do as I ask. They know the boundaries and respect them. Why have you always used the softly softly approach because it reads like you are being walked all over. Time to stand up for yourself a bit more maybe?

yellowdaisies Thu 07-May-15 14:14:47

Can you get them engaged in cooking in a more fun way maybe? Have one day a week when each member of the household is responsible for cooking dinner? They get to choose what to eat, you give them some money to buy stuff for it (or get things in in advance) and then they cook?

It doesn't feel nice, or fair to be coming into a house at 6pm each night, to no other adult for company and ungrateful teens who are doing nothing for the household and expecting to be waited on sad It's just how you change things without just booting them all out, that's the tricky bit.

GasLIghtShining Thu 07-May-15 20:22:21

DC 20 and 16 here and they sound like yours. I shut the bedroom doors and then shout about the mess everywhere else. Yo be honest I have given up.

The 20 year old pays keep. She set up a standing order to transfer the money so she didn't have to keep remembering so a bit thoughtful I suppose.

Neither smoke, drink or are out clubbing it so I am just thankful that I am not worrying about that sort of thing

Did your wife do most of the work in the house? I ask this as I wondered if they have carried on as it has always been except that circumstances have changed and you need the help.

Could you have family meeting and explain how difficult it is for you?

dementedma Thu 07-May-15 20:48:53

Gather up dirty shoes and chuck into garden. Do this every time you find them in the house, other than if they are left by the door/in the porch or whatever the agreement is. They will get fed up going out to retrieve them. Once the shoe thing is sorted, start on the next thing.
Agree close the door on their room and leave them to it. Their room, their mess. In the rest of the house, your rules.

Timeandtune Thu 07-May-15 20:56:17

I would also try the team meeting approach. You are all on the same side and share the same goal ( family harmony). I would ask them as young adults what contribution they can make towards this objective.

Travelledtheworld Fri 08-May-15 13:13:43

First thing lostwithouther is that I am really sorry for your loss and send you a virtual hug for getting this far as a single parent.
I too am alone with teenagers, but not quite as old as yours.
< whispers>. I actually think your suggestions is quite a good one. Certainly draw up a list and sit down and talk them through it, and as you say, accept, negotiate or move out. Use your list as a focus for a conversation with them both. But don't start charging them for carpet cleaning etc just yet.....

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