Lifeline WA spoke with young people whose ‘new normal’ has included being back under their parent’s roof. Experienced mediator and trainer Laura adds communication tips to try.

When the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, Sabrina was travelling around Europe. She had to return home at a tricky time to find a new job. Steven’s full-time job was based in Barcelona. His life changed to being back at home with his parents, continuing work in a remote capacity from their place. 

A huge adjustment 

Sabrina found that her family had changed their routine. Simple things like mealtimes, bedtimes and personal space are now a point of tension. Steven said working full-time at home with his parents was a huge adjustment. 

Lifeline WA Trainer Laura says that young people could be feeling stress, anxiety, resentment, frustration, and irritability.  

“There can be a sense of grief associated with moving back in with your parents.” 

It’s a loss of your life as you once knew it, and many young adults feel like it’s a step backwards.  There are some things that you can do or consider that can make things more manageable.

You have moved in  

If you’ve gone back to an old room it can be easy to forget that you are the one who left, and that your parents will have filled that void with different routines.  

Steven has found it frustrating when his parents revert to talking to him like he is younger. Laura says that this is normal. “When your parents take that approach, it’s easy to revert to talking to them like you are younger too”. She suggests thinking about your parents like roommates. Ask yourself, how would you speak to roommates you had just moved in with? 

Sit down and be upfront

Laura suggests having a sit down with your family and expressing to them how you feel. Be upfront about where you are at and what you are finding difficult. This can help your parents understand how you may be reacting, without taking it personally.  

“Ask them about their routines and how you can lessen your impact,” says Laura. Starting the conversation in this way can encourage them to suggest compromises to accommodate your needs as well.

Find a positive 

Steven felt guilty about dreading returning home, while his parents were really looking forward to it. He asked them to have one night a week where they all caught up properly and checked in with each other.  Laura says focusing on some of the positives of moving back home, and creating moments of enjoyment, can help. 

If it blows up 

If an argument does break out, there are things you can try to deescalate it.  

  • Ask ask everyone to pause and take a deep breath. This can give everyone a second to regroup.  
  • Remember your body language and what impression it may be giving to your parents. The simple act of taking a seat can remove some of the anger in the room.  
  • Use I am feeling… in place of accusatory language like you are always...  

In this New York Times article, Psychologist Carl Pickhardt adds “generalities can escalate conflict. Specifics can calm it down”.

Using these tools within a confrontation can remind your parent you are an adult, and encourage them to speak to you as an adult. 

Laura wants to remind all young adults moving back in with their parents to forgive themselves.  “It’s normal to feel the way you’re feeling, and it’s okay if you don’t always act perfectly”. In time, you and your parents can get to a better place together.  

Our Crisis Supporters are here to listen and help 24/7 on 13 11 14. 

Image credit: Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash
Image credit: Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash