- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 14, 2002

Absorbing a young adult back into a household requires sensitivity and respect on the part of parents and child, says John DiMino, director of counseling at Temple University in Philadelphia. Both parties can ensure a smooth transition by taking stock in open and early discussion.

"As students have been away for a while, they've grown up some and may have increased their amount of autonomy," says Mr. DiMino, a licensed clinical psychologist. "So what happens is that conflicts arise: They may have been keeping late hours, going out with friends, and parents may be used to rules that applied when they were younger. The important point is to deal with it pre-emptively before conflict occurs."

Parents need to acknowledge any metamorphosis in their sons and daughters, as well. The new adults may have developed different interests and appropriately are seeking out contact with their peers, he says.

"It's normal for people in their late adolescence and early 20s to hang out in groups of peers," Mr. DiMino says. "Often, that's a big bone of contention. Parents complain that 'we don't even see them.' That needs to be understood so that it minimizes hurt feelings on both sides."

Communicate clearly about expectations about what amount of time is reasonable to spend with the family, he says. If someone wants to be treated as an adult, he advises his students to talk to their parents in an adult-to-adult manner.

"That means negotiating guidelines about respecting household rules that also afford [the adult child] a greater measure of freedom," Mr. DiMino says. "Take responsibility for your behavior. If students are coming home and passing out drunk, that's different from the student who is working, talking about things, such as whether a curfew is necessary anymore."

American University graduate Jen Gross, 22, who recently moved back in with her parents in their suburban Cleveland home, says her parents have not imposed a curfew but then again, she doesn't really need one.

"I'm working all week, so I'm going to come home early anyway because I'm tired," Miss Gross says. "And staying out all night is what you do in your freshman year in college when you're first on your own that's old."

The curfew issue "varies a lot," Mr. DiMino says. "Most 21-year-olds get to make that choice, but each family is different. If [a young adult] feels strongly that you really don't need a curfew, it's important to put that out there. Maybe the parents will say, 'Will you mind calling me at 10:30 to let me know you're OK?' But that might not work."

Young adults may think they don't need a curfew, but parents may try to impose them, which can be the source of major infighting, says Kristen Gustafson, 25, a 1998 graduate of Stonehill College in Easton, Mass., and author of "Graduate! Everything You Need to Succeed After College."

In addition, young adults need to discuss with parents the ground rules for visitors and phone calls, Miss Gustafson says.

"When you were in the dorm, it was great fun to sit around all night talking with your friends and drinking a beer," she says. "Your parents may not be amused by that. Find out what a reasonable time to have people over is and what time phone calls can come in. Make sure your friends know you're living at home, and that calling at 11 p.m. may not be the best thing."

Jennifer Greenwell, 21, who plans to move back home in Springfield with her parents this month after graduating from West Virginia University in Morgantown, says she doesn't know what it will be like to live under house rules once again post-graduation.

"I was thinking about it the other day," Miss Greenwell says. "It will be completely different from going home for semester break. I'll miss coming home and everyone being excited about me. Now I'll just be a fixture in the house again. I won't be able to sit in my living room and watch TV and drink a beer without someone giving me a look."

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