May 18, 2017

Can they move back in?

“When my son was released from jail, we let him move in for a while to help him get back on his feet. Everything was okay, except now he’s not going to work every day and has started hitting us up for money. The situation has started getting worse as he demands to be taken to places late at night. We have reached the point where having him live here isn’t working. I struggle with being strong in this situation.” ~

From what was shared here, this son hasn’t quite worked through all of his addiction related issues. It also appears there wasn’t a clear understanding of the expectations associated with him moving back in.

Quite often parents tell their children what the rules are for moving in. Unfortunately, telling is not effectively establishing agreement.

Engaging in a relaxed conversation about expectations, policies, and requirements is the best format for defining any future living arrangement. It is in this from of engagement where both parties are able to come to agreement. It is also a great way to gauge one’s willingness to cooperate and establish clear guidelines for managing conflict in times of non-compliance.

This all sounds so technical and formal. After all, we are talking about our children. True.

We are actually talking about adult children who need to better understand structure and responsibility.  This is also good practice for parents who have not been very effective at articulating expectations and guidelines.

Structuring a healthy, mutually comfortable living arrangement is not about rules or regulations. (In fact, I didn’t use those words in this blog until just now.) It is less about rules and more about facilitating a healthy environment where everyone is comfortable, respected, and safe. In staging the living arrangement conversation, this is exactly how a parent presents the purpose for this meeting – coming to agreement on how we can live together in comfort, respect and safety.

If you are a parent considering opening your home to a child in recovery, awesome.

Long before this is scheduled to occur:

  1. Have a conversation about how you and they envision it working out.
  2. Be prepared to clearly explain how you define safe, respectful, and comfortable.
  3. Avoid bringing up past sins or indiscretions as examples of what won’t be tolerated.
  4. Be prepared to respond to their desires for exceptions or exclusions.
  5. If you cannot adapt to these special considerations, be firm and quietly explain they don’t fit into your safe, respected, comfortable formula.
  6. Establish there is no negotiation for breaking the code in this agreement. You (and your spouse) are the arbiters of truth and reality. If something is out of order for either of you, it is declared out of order and there will be no discussions. This helps everyone understand there is no gray in this agreement.
  7. Establish a clear and specific timeline for this living arrangement and come to agreement on what the measurable objective is for their moving back in.
  8. Be respectful and calm, but be firm, patient, and direct. If you don’t want any surprises later, make certain everyone is on the same page before they move in.
  9. If you don’t think it is a good idea, for whatever the reason, then don’t do it. Sometimes the timing for these projects aren’t good. If this is one of those times, do it before you get involved with them moving in.  It may cause some short-term heartache, but it may likely eliminate a long-term conflict.

Too many times I walked on eggshells trying to do the right thing for my son, knowing it wasn’t working out have him home. Once we had an honest conversation about how we could make this living arrangement work, everything went much more smoothly.  There was a piece me that dreaded doing it.  However, in the right format, with the proper tone, and sound preparation, we came to clear agreement rather easily and it worked out quite well.

I would encourage you to examine this approach as you explore having your child move back home for a little while.


I would love to hear from you. What issues are confronting you today? Where are you currently experiencing fear and shame relating to the struggles in your life? I have some pretty cool tools to guide you and would love to help.  Please let me know:

Please take a moment to go to the Cycling for Recovery 2017 page and learn more about ways you can participate in this year’s cross-country cycling addiction awareness campaign.







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About Dave Cooke

Dave Cooke is a dad on a mission. His mission is to help parents get control of their lives over the powerful, destructive influences of a child's addiction. As the father of a son in a ten year heroin battle, Dave knows all to well the challenges parents and families face. He also knows there is a way to find peace in the chaos. It is his mission to help parents discover their path to a healthier, balanced life even if a child's active addiction is still part of their daily journey.