Lucy’s oldest child Zoe will be turning 18 and starting uni next year. Lucy is expecting a few things to change around the house.
“When you’re the parent of an HSC student, you’re very indulgent that year, because the whole world tells you how hard it is for them,” Lucy says. “You completely lay off them for a year. They don’t have to be responsible for anything.”
Next year, Zoe will still be living at home. But Lucy is expecting her to be more “adult”, and to start contributing to the household.
“I definitely won’t be doing things for her that I was doing and I definitely expect her to have a regular job and to pay for her own stuff,” Lucy says.
“I’d like one meal a week and a load of washing a week and a tidy bedroom. I’ve done this for 18 years now and I’m tired.”
Meanwhile, Diane’s daughter Bree is 21. She’s at uni, working part-time and living at home so she can save up enough money for a house deposit. She pays $50 a week board and she’s meant to help out around the house.
“I tried the ‘Okay, you’re an adult now, you’ve got adult responsibilities’ line and it just didn’t work,” Diane says. “I said, ‘Right, you have to be responsible for keeping the bathroom clean,’ and it just didn’t get done.
“I got so embarrassed when we had guests and they took a shower and then I realised the shower had mould in it and the bathroom sink was full of hair and toothpaste. I was getting so uptight that it wasn’t being done. Now I just do it.”
Diane says Bree complains that she treats her like a child.
“I don’t know if I treat her like a child because she behaves like one, or she behaves like one because I treat her like one.”
All around Australia, parents are facing the same issues. Due to rising house prices, more time spent in higher education and a later average age for marrying, kids are taking longer and longer to move out of home. In fact, almost one in 10 people in their early thirties is still living with their parents. Social researcher Mark McCrindle says there’s no longer any social stigma around it.
“There’s no real push factor to get them to move out,” he tells Mamamia. “It is a new reality, this multi-generational household.”
So what happens when your children become adults but don’t move out? How do things change? What are the new rules to live by?
Psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg says a lot of young men and women basically treat the family home as a hotel.