The Place


Ask a Therapist: How do I treat my adult children who no longer live by my rules?

Posted at 2:53 PM, Nov 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-29 16:53:24-05

Question: How should I treat my adult children that no longer live by my “house rules” but are staying with me during the holiday season?

Answer: Now that your child is an adult, dynamics have inevitably shifted. There is a balance between respecting their right to make their own choices and also setting boundaries that are important for your home.


Thin about the house rules that are most important to you. If you go into a conversation with your adult child listing out all the restrictions and expectations you are going to set down, tension will likely build. Remember your child is now an adult. Think about what is reasonable for your home. You have every right to set your house rules but you also want to have a good time. Decide where there is flexibility before you go to the next step.

-Have a conversation adult to adult.

Having a talk starting by acknowledging the shift in dynamic within your relationship.  Give your adult child to express any concerns they have about their stay. Voice any of your concerns also. Remember this is a conversation and not the time to lecture about any life choices about which you may disagree. The purpose of this conversation is to start the holidays stay off on the right foot so it is an enjoyable time for all.


This is where the first step comes in. Talk about the areas in which you are willing to be flexible. Then talk about the rules that are most important for them to follow and why that is important to you. Express what it would mean to you for them to follow those rules, even though they are an adult.

-Focus on the fun

House rules can be important but remember the true meaning of coming together as a family during the holidays is to enjoy each other. Make the conversation about house rules as light and brief as possible so you can get down to the important business of having a great time together.

For more parenting tips and help