Don’t let adult child set the rules in your home

Q: Our 18-year-old son is our last child left in the house. He didn’t finish high school, but does have a job, at least for now. But living with him is awful. He barely talks to us. Getting him to do anything around the house always leads to an argument. I refused to let him take the car, so he just took my keys off the hook and took it anyway. He ignores our curfews and most of our house rules. I wonder about counseling, but I don’t know how to get him to come with us. Help! — L.D., Henderson

A: Your boy is 18, L.D. Glory, hallelujah. You have won the lottery! “Eighteen” is your winning number! You have all the legal power. The boy lives in your house at your pleasure.

The only power he has left in the relationship is his grip around your heart.

The reality is we have built a world that artificially delays the maturing of children into adults, and maybe particularly so with boys. You need to know, L.D., that a ton of parents find themselves living with surly, entitled progeny, age 17 to 26, holding everyone in the home emotionally hostage, sitting in the living room playing video games and ordering pizzas, wondering why someone won’t do their laundry.

And here’s what I tell parents:

Act now, unless you’d like to be looking at this tableau when your boy is 40.

Step one: Decide who your boy is — a guest, a tenant or a family member.

If he’s a guest in your house, then you could work on being a better host. Clean his room more often. Drive him places. Be a better tour guide. Cook and clean for him. Or, you could decide that he is a guest who has overstayed his welcome. You could thank him for coming, but tell him that it’s time for him to leave.

If you decide he’s a tenant, then it’s time for you to choose just what sort of “room for let” you want to offer. As landlords, you get to negotiate rent, board, minimum standards of safety. Allowable appliances. Whether your boy’s lease includes access to your fridge or your appliances. Whether you require a cleaning deposit.

In return, a tenant is not required to socialize or even talk to his landlords. You can do most of your business with memos, e-mails and other formal communique. Tenants don’t have curfews. They are accountable only to the lease agreement.

Or, you can decide that your son is a family member, in which case he’ll be accountable to the bonds and rhythms of family.

The minimal, non-negotiable standard for family bond is common courtesy. We make eye contact. We speak when we’re spoken to. We show up at meals on time. When someone says, “Please pass the salt,” we pass the salt. We pick up after ourselves, especially in common areas. We don’t have to like each other, but open disdain is never tolerated. It is understood that family members have a reciprocal interdependence and that each family member carries a fair share of the load.

The rhythms of family? Yep. No vampires are allowed in my house. I’m not going to be whispering and being quiet at 12:30 p.m. just because my son played video games until 4:30 the previous morning. I’m not going to be awakened out of a dead sleep at midnight to answer the phone when one of his “homies” calls.

Nope. If you’re a member of my family, then the rules are different.

L.D., it’s up to you to insist he grows up. I’m not stupid or cruel. I know full well that he’s probably not yet responsible enough to survive in the real world by himself. But, I swear to you, I’ll set my son on the curb before I’ll allow him to conscript my household in an atmosphere of contempt and fear.

And, by the way, my boy takes my car without permission? Then me and my boy will talk. (Yes, I know that’s grammatically incorrect, but it sounds more macho.) I’ll express my indignation. I’ll introduce him to the phrase “grand theft auto.” And I’ll let him know clearly and decisively what will happen if he ever tries it again.

I’ll call the police and say someone has stolen my car, and I think I know who it is.

Steven Kalas is a behavioral health consultant and counselor at Clear View Counseling and Wellness Center in Las Vegas. His columns appear on Tuesdays and Sundays. Questions for the Asking Human Matters column or comments can be e-mailed to skalas@ reviewjournal.com.

ad-high_impact_4
Life
Kids become firefighters at Fire Station 98 open house
Henderson residents wore fire hats, learned about CPR and met firefighters at the Fire Station 98 open house Saturday, August 11, 2018. (Marcus Villagran Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
People from all over the world attend RollerCon 2018
RollerCon 2018 is a five-day convention focused on the roller derby community and culture at Westgate in Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Las Vegas police officer on being PETA's Sexiest Vegan Next Door
Las Vegas police officer David Anthony talks vegan lifestyle and how he feels about being voted PETA's sexiest Vegan next door from his home on Monday, July 9, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Bark-Andre Furry meets Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog
Two of NHL's furriest fans met at the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace on Tuesday, June 18, 2018, in Las Vegas. Vegas Golden Knights superfan Bark-Andre Furry and Washington Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog shared a plate of meatballs and spaghetti with help from Logan, "The Girl with the Hat." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like