Household Rules & Life Lessons: Living with Young Adult Kids

There are times when I become extremely frustrated at some of the actions of my kids; it’s not that I think they’re terrible, but rather, that I think they have the ability to do ‘more’ – to BE ‘more.’

As I listen to other parents gripe, I realize just how lucky I am to have two boys who’ve turned out pretty darned good – and to be blessed with a stepson who is so compassionate and smart.

All three are young adults now and as it is with most new ‘adults’ I’m sure they have a real problem with parents telling them what to do and the fact that we actually do have rules they MUST abide by.

What they don’t realize YET is the household rules we have are developed with the intention of making them better adults, employees, spouses and parents.

dont piss me off

Household Rules aka Don’t Piss Me Off List:


Rule: Make your bed every day and keep your room tidy

Purpose: Studies have shown the biggest waste of money is replacing lost items. Honing habits of organization will prevent wasted parents money now and hopefully benefit their own budgets later.

Rule: Clean up your own messes

Purpose: Whether the kid is going away to college, getting an apartment with a friend or getting married – Someone will appreciate not having to pick up messes that belong to someone else. Also see purpose of Rule #1.

Rule: No food or drink in bedrooms (unless it’s water and NOTHING but water).

Purpose: Besides minimizing the risk of bugs, there is no purpose really other than the fact it’s just GROSS!

Rule: Curfew – Be in the house by 11 PM through the week and 1 AM on weekends otherwise figure out someplace else to stay.

Purpose: When sharing living space with others, it’s imperative you be considerate of others who may be sleeping.

Rule: No tobacco No alcohol No drugs

Purpose: First of all it’s unhealthy. Second, it’s illegal for under 21. And – we don’t do it so they won’t either. And if money is being wasted on these bad habits, then it’s time to 1. cut off funding 2. get a job 3. start paying rent. Adult choices bring adult responsibilities.

Rule: When you’re away from home, Check In

Purpose: When we leave, we leave a note or let someone know where we are going and when we’ll likely be back. Significant others will appreciate this later and my ulcer appreciates it now.

Rule: Do something constructive with your time instead of sleeping your summer away (i.e. get a job, volunteer or help grandparents/relatives with projects)

Lesson: Since the kids are all 18+ this year, when school is out, I’m going to have them all spend at least 3 days per week doing something constructive. They can either get a job or help grandparents out with projects that can use a little muscle or they can volunteer with local charities. This will help develop their sense of responsibility as well as keep them from getting lazy. Many people will appreciate this now and later on.

Rule: Respect property and space of others and If you borrow something more than 3 times, it’s probably time to buy your own.

Lesson: I’ve always been taught that if you borrow something without asking permission, that’s stealing. If you do borrow something, it’s your responsibility to put it back or return it immediately after use.

Other lessons I try to teach my kids, though I don’t always convey in the best way are:


Lesson: Be ambitious – if you see something that needs to be done – do it.

Purpose: Read most any job description and it will say “Must be a self starter. Must be able to work with little supervision.” These kinds of desirable skills start at home.

Lesson: Read the directions or stop and ask for directions

Purpose: This will save a great deal of frustration later in life whether it’s putting a piece of furniture together, going to a friends wedding in a place you’ve never been before, or filling out an application – get in the habit now. Some employers are actually putting trick instructions in the job descriptions and application requirements now just to see if you actually do read and follow directions.

Lesson: Mistakes make us stronger

Purpose: Naturally we’re all going to feel disappointment when we make mistakes but it’s important to learn from them, correct them as best we can and move on. Don’t give up just because you failed once or even twice. Some of the most brilliant and successful people have built their fortunes on what they’ve learned from their mistakes.

Lesson: Admit fault, Make Up and Move On

Purpose: One of the hardest things I’ve ever learned to do was admit fault. When you try to cover up mistakes, hide from your faults, it only creates resentment and distance between you and at least one other person. It’s much better getting the stress and worry out of your head by admitting you were wrong, apologizing and moving on. The longer you go without addressing the problem, the bigger the problem becomes. Significant others and spouses will LOVE you for this.

Lesson: Never loan out more than you can afford to lose

Purpose: Allowing friends and family to borrow money or items of value is the perfect recipe for disaster. When you do loan something out, consider it a “gift” that is given. If they return it, great. If they don’t

Lesson: Think twice before you buy; spending money is making yourself poorer and somebody else richer.

Purpose: You or your parents work hard for their money. Don’t spend it senselessly. Always ask yourself do you NEED it or do you WANT it – then decided to buy or not.

Lesson: If you can’t pay cash for it, you probably can’t afford it anyway.

Purpose: Don’t go in debt for anything besides a car or home. When you buy on credit and the newness wears off, making the payment becomes more difficult because you think of a zillion things you’d rather spend money on.


I know there are other lessons that have simply slipped my mind, so I’ll just update this list as they come to mind.

In the meantime, why not share some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned from your parents or those rules and lessons you have in place for your own household.

Granted, I’m not the best at enforcing these rules and sometimes that gets a little frustrating, but my mind has been at work – devising the perfect consequence for not following rules.

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