Q: What is a reasonable expectation when children, over the age of 18, live in your home when it comes to their daily schedule? Questions such as what time should we expect you? Are you planning to be home for dinner? What is proper etiquette for these adult children when they still live under their parent’s roof, eat their food, and require parent’s financial support?
A: The rules of the house are the rules they have to follow, but you have to re-evaluate your expectations, as well. The best way to do this is to talk to the children about what they think is reasonable and answer why it isn’t, if it isn’t. For example, it is reasonable to know whether to buy groceries for and cook for people who live in your house. If that is too much pressure for them and they want more freedom, then you can suggest they make themselves something when they come home, and adjust your grocery shopping accordingly. If it is important to you that you all have dinner together periodically, then you can “give” on the every day notification and say fine, I will not expect you Monday through Saturday, but we will have a family dinner on Sunday so plan accordingly. If they ask why, tell them – that it is a relaxed and happy time to all catch up with each other’s lives.
If they think a curfew is inessential, you can give it up and not inquire “what time shall we expect you,” but still have a house rule about safety, and letting someone know where they are. You could lift the curfew and not ask, but only if they are willing to let you know where they will be. They would do this with a roommate, or should, so it isn’t a demanding, parental ironclad rule that has to do with parent/child relationships. If you expect them to help around the house, tell them what you expect them to do. “Any time this week that you can fit it in I please need you to do your laundry and wash the inside of the refrigerator. .” or whatever it is that you need help with. This is not unreasonable, and actually helps them learn to plan their time so that they can meet the “within the week” deadline.
Really, the best way to have fair expectations is to have a family conference and talk about what each of you expects, and how you can adjust or modify this to accommodate a different way of thinking.