Monday, October 6, 2008

The New Boomer Challenge - Children into Roommates

We have reached an interesting time in our culture and a new challenge has come of it. As boomers we have always been a revolutionary bunch with lots of "firsts" in our combined history, that established us as an independent group of fairly free thinkers. Now, we are faced with a new boomer challenge. Whether or not we can turn our children into roommates and survive.

I didn't realize when I was younger how many opportunities I took advantage of to make really stupid mistakes and put myself in some situations that, today, would be unheard of. But, one thing has remained pretty constant through my life. Family has, is and always will be important. Whether you are a parent, a surrogate parent, or the one person a kid could depend on growing up. You may now be entering an unknown area that you are not sure how to deal with. Today I'm going to talk about children as roommates. And, more specifically, whether or not you (and your family) are possible candidates for the "roommate" life.

I live with my kids, or my kids live with me, depending on who you are talking to and on which day. It works for us. I don't have to live with them, I'm not dependent, on the contrary I'm a very independent person. But none the less we do live together. How did we finally reach this point where it works so well? How did I know that we were candidates for roommate status? Well, to be honest, I didn't and have learned by trial and error. It will be easier for you if you can answer a couple of questions to determine if this is a lifestyle that will work for you.

Where to live

Your house is your house and always will be. If you raised your kids there, you (and they) will have a really hard time not reverting back to the parent/child role. So, the first question is - Can you live somewhere else. If you own your home and are already shaking your head, think about renting out the home you own and renting something with your kids for the greater good. If you start on neutral territory and set up some bsic house rules in the "new" house, you will find that the transition is really easy.

How attached are you to your "stuff"

With your grown kids as roommates it is pretty easy to set boundaries. But if you, like me, have grandchildren involved in the equation you will find that boundary setting just isn't a concept kids understand. My grandchildren love playing in my closet and wearing my jewelry. One day I came home and my mattress had gone through the bed frame because, "A burglar broke in and jumped on the bed until it broke, we have no idea who it was!"

If you are really attached to your stuff and are not willing to rent a storage unit to put it in, then you are not a candidate for roommate. Your grown kids will "borrow" your stuff, your grandkids will play with your stuff and their friends will investigate your stuff.

Can you be an impartial participant

We spend the better portion of our lives making sure our kids don't get hurt, don't make the wrong decisions, don't hang out with the wrong people, excel at whatever they are doing. Can you give that up? As a roommate you have to bite your tongue when you know that the decision the children are making is going to result in something less than perfect. It's way easier to do that over the phone when they are calling home once a week or so just to check in, but can you do it when they are there and you are watching the disaster unfold. And, are you prepared to let them work through the issues and deal with the consequences themselves and not offer advice unless asked? It's really hard, but you have to do it. If you can't be "friends" with your children in a roommate situation, then you are not a candidate for this lifestyle.

Of course, the payoff to this lifestyle is that you get to play with your grandkids and you are living with your best friend who already knows, and for the most part accepts, all of your bad habits. And, if you have read the above and feel that these are minor details that you can work through, then in our next article we'll talk about a few more things to consider before making the leap.

For now though, think about this alternative and maybe start investigating the possibility. In the end it is a win-win for everyone and can be pretty fun. Gotta run, somebody's in my closet.

No comments: