All you need to say is simply yes or no,
anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
What are some ways to navigate through the responsibilities, choices, friendships, summer jobs, or living at home again after your teen/young adult child has left the nest? Is it their first summer home after college, or are they part of the boomerang generation?
To be candid, the summer between freshmen year in college and sophomore year can be challenging. We faced obstacles with both our son and daughter during this transition. They each left home after graduating, suddenly able to make their own choices to do whatever they wanted, when they wanted. They were out from under our roof, and they were free.
Arriving back home with a few guidelines caused conflict at times. Teenagers (and humans in general) do not like to be told what to do or what not to do. It’s an inner, and sometimes outward battle. All parties involved need to make adjustments to the new normal when a young adult child moves back in—even if it’s only for a week.
In our case, I struggled at first with no curfews. My children adjusted to our requests to “please text me if you are not coming home.” I clearly remember my frustration when I had to say, “Please do not leave your wet laundry in the washer for me to put in the dryer.” And “Please do not leave your clothes in the dryer for me to fold and put away.” There were a few other irritants, but you get my point.”
“Things change. People change and living situations change as well, even for our children. The days of angst over my children’s curfews and clothes are long gone; but fortunately, we were able to come to an understanding between us. We did our best to train our children up well; but living with them as adults caused all of us annoyance at times. Thus, the need for agreements.
I hope this topic will support you in a way that will head off conflict and any challenges you may encounter. I was introduced to making agreements to keep the peace, whether with my children, my spouse, or even people I work with. An agreement involves everyone’s input leading to a decision that is mutually agreed upon. instead of accusations, which raise emotions.”
I believe agreements are more forgiving than mere expectations. When all parties commit, and one of the party members breaks the agreement, it then becomes about the agreement and not the person. Instead of “you let me down,” or “you let us down,” or “you did not keep the agreement,” the focus can move toward “what we agreed to.” This highlights the terms each party settled upon, instead of accusations, which raise emotions.”
“There is also a higher calling to agreements than to expectations. Expectations are not always discussed and most often assumed. Agreements are discussed and negotiated. There is no room for assumption when you put things in writing.”
“As you make agreements, you also include consequences for not keeping your side of any bargains. If the agreement is broken, there are no blow ups, no meltdowns, no screaming matches, just discussion of the things agreed upon and the consequence(s). To be clear, as Mom or Dad, it is possible that we may inappropriately breach an agreement.
We have our own brokenness, and it will seep out into our children’s lives. But admitting our mistakes and faults allows us to set a good example of taking responsibility.
With the help of a friend and advice from my life coach, I’m working on making agreements with my family, friends, and even co-workers. I did not practice this when my children were younger, but I make it a point to do it now.
Ideally, agreements must always begin with trust—the foundation of all our healthy relationships. If trust is not present, you will not get very far. Think of ways (ask God) how you can create a safe, loving, and open environment to come together for a discussion about whatever topic you are making an agreement about. Make sure conversations are honest and candid by all involved.
Deciding in advance how you will interact and how you will wrap up each discussion point can be valuable to the overall tone and progression of any meeting. We want to do our best to lovingly listen with an open heart, seeking first to understand before being understood. Assuming this position will go a long way in building trust that will extend into your child’s young adult years.
“My heart’s desire is to stay in relationship with my children without compromising my values, convictions, and beliefs. I assume this is your desire too. Stay connected relationally as you enter into agreement dialogue.
Having no preconceived notions, assumptions, or judgments will go a long way in building trustworthiness. When we intentionally ask questions without an agenda and truly desire to make things work peacefully, it brings about a stronger bond. After all, our children are becoming adults. It serves them and us well if we treat them honorably.
During discussion and negotiation phases, be there to listen and ask lots of questions so you can discover what is in your child’s heart. Find out what they are truly after in the agreement. Remember, the best end result or desired goal for everyone involved is peace and understanding.
How have you tried to make agreements in the past? How did they turn out? What could you do differently to make things work better this time around? Will you ask God?
What if you asked your teenager/young adult to experiment with you to form an agreement on a recent topic you have not been able to resolve? What would need to change in you?