Published on August 11th, 2022 | by Dawn Colclasure


Making It Work: Keeping a Happy Home With Adult Children

“I made a dentist appointment,” my oldest son, Centauri, announced one day.

It took me by surprise. What dentist? I thought. Did he schedule the appointment correctly? Does he know if they take our insurance?

Instead of drilling him with these questions, I just assumed everything was in order and thanked him for the heads-up.

I later discovered that not only had he learned how to find a new dentist (since he was too old for the pediatric dentist he had until then), he’d also found a PCP and therapist. Instead of jumping ahead and checking all of them out, I had to remind myself that my son was an adult now and his medical care was in his own hands. And if he had any questions or if there was any confusion, he could just consult with me or his dad.

After all, we were right across the hall from his room.

“I can’t wait until I turn 18!” was the mantra of many kids I knew when I was growing up. It was mine, too. Turning 18 meant we were finally adults, and finally able to move out on our own. Everyone turning 18 and flying the coop was like some unwritten rule. But I didn’t end up moving out of my parents’ home until I was 19 – it took another year to get everything in order.

For my own firstborn, however, that wasn’t the case. In fact, at 20, he still lives with his parents – and we support his decision.

Of course, it’s not something that I talk about openly. When my siblings and friends post pictures on Facebook about their older kids moving out and getting their own places, I quietly like their posts but don’t ever comment. There’s always that worry that they will respond with, “Why is Centauri still living with you?” They all know his age – many of their kids were friends with him in school – and they have seen the pictures of parties, events and milestones that I have happily shared. But I’m worried that, behind their kind words, they are judging my decision to support my adult son’s decision to still live at home.

Centauri is a college student, and the university he attends is only a few miles away. After he won a scholarship to a local university, we discussed housing arrangements. Did he want to live on campus or stay at home? After some discussion, he decided he would live at home. It made more sense.

The other issue behind why he still lives at home is one I feel less comfortable discussing: He has sleeping issues on account of ADHD. Centauri is up all night and, if he could, he would sleep all day. Ever since his toddler years, he’s been a night owl. Adjusting his sleep schedule to school hours has been a longtime challenge, although when he started uni, the flexible hours of his classes made attendance easier. Even so, I worry about what will happen when he does live on his own, because he has a hard time waking up. I usually have to resort to waking him up every 15 minutes until he finally gets out of bed. When he lives on his own, he won’t have his mom around to do that anymore.

 As I contemplate this issue, a couple of my friends come to mind. One has an adult-age kid with medical issues still living at home. Because of her daughter’s need for ongoing care, it makes sense that she still lives at home. Another friend’s kid is  enrolled at the same university that mine is attending; she still lives at home so she can save up for moving out. I think of how awesome it is that we moms are taking steps to ensure our kids will be fully prepared when the time comes for them to fly the coop. When I read about college kids forced to either unenroll from school or move to another state because they can’t afford college housing, I thank my lucky stars that won’t happen to our kids.

I don’t regret allowing my adult child to live at home while attending university, because I know we are supporting his education. By being able to live at home and not pay rent, Centauri can afford school expenses like textbooks and grab a sandwich to eat in between classes. He also works four jobs, and since he’s either working, studying, or sleeping, attending to home matters like general upkeep and such are hard to fit into his schedule.

Having an adult child living at home, however, has definitely been a wake-up call. For one thing, I am no longer the one managing his life. He makes appointments and decides on his own schedule. For another, I am constantly reminded that there is another adult in this house besides my husband. My son exercises so much independence and has mature duties such as paying taxes, and it has been an adjustment for me to ensure that I give him the privacy and respect that a fellow adult needs in order to achieve their new goals as someone who has “adult responsibilities.”

In a way, his bedroom is like his own apartment. He doesn’t cook his food there, of course, and he doesn’t have his own bathroom (alas!), but his room is his own personal space. What he does with it is up to him.

Centauri started uni when Covid hit and we were still in lockdown. All of his classes were on Zoom, which meant there was the occasional swear word uttered loud and clear that his audience heard, or the cat would leap onto the table and decide to sniff around on the laptop. He lets us know if he has a Zoom or if he’s using voice chat for work or school, but sometimes background noise tends to interrupt.

He recently started attending in-person classes now that restrictions were lifted. This has meant synchronizing our schedules to accommodate getting him to work and school without it interfering with our own responsibilities.

As a modern parent, I want my kids to be independent. As an adult, my oldest definitely is. He comes and goes as he pleases (we just check to see where for safety reasons), and he can be out of the house until as late as two in the morning. One of his jobs occasionally requires him to stay overnight, so sometimes he’ll be away for that as well. His friends will occasionally show up to pick him up and get coffee, food, or go to the movies.

Centauri knows we don’t mind him having this kind of independence, but we do appreciate a heads-up in advance of visits. There was one time I saw a strange car parked in front of our house. Curious, I went to look for him, and found him packing a backpack.

“Do you have a friend coming over?” I asked.

He looked at me “Oh! Yeah. I forgot to tell you,” he said while fingerspelling to me. “I’m spending the night at a friend’s.”

Well, sometimes he remembers to tell us and sometimes not. But for the most part, anytime he goes out, we at least know where he is.

Having my adult child at home has changed how we relate to each other. I have to keep reminding myself that I am no longer in charge of his life. He has pretty much taken responsibility for his work, schooling, employment and finances. He does share information with me about these things, but I do not have any say or control over them.

At the same time, it’s nice to have another adult to discuss things with. We often do things together and I don’t have to “watch” him like I did when he was little. He takes good care of himself and knows how to be safe when outdoors.

Overall, having my adult child living at home a little longer than normal has been a good experience. I am definitely grateful to have this extra time with my son. Every time he mentions something related to his future plans to move out, I count myself lucky to be able to help him prepare for being out there on his own in the world. Even if it happens a little later than usual.

Cover photo by MOHD AZRIN on Unsplash

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About the Author

Dawn Colclasure is a writer who lives with her husband and children in Oregon. Her parenting essays have appeared in Mutha Magazine and Mothering Magazine. She has also written about deaf parenting for the national newspaper, SIGNews, and she is a former member of the Editorial Advisory Board for Disability, Pregnancy and Parenting international. She is also the author of Parenting Pauses: Life as a Deaf Parent. Find out more about her work here: and

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