Active Adult Communities

1/17/2022 | By Amy Dickinson

With their 18-year-old granddaughter coming to stay for an extended time, these grandparents want house rules in place. See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson has to say.

Dear Amy:

My 18-year-old granddaughter is going to live with us after her high school graduation.

She is coming to stay with us to work for a year and establish residency in our state, which is awash in good quality public universities.

We are excited to have her come live with us. I want the experience to be positive, but I know clear expectations are important.

She has spent time with us each summer, so we know each other fairly well.

My husband and I drew up a list of things that we expected from her: Getting a job, taking care of her bedroom and bathroom, learning to drive and to use public transportation, no male overnight guests, house sit when we take short trips – things like that.

We do not expect her to pay rent; we are doing this because college is insanely expensive, and we want to help.

What are some pitfalls we should be aware of?

Is there an important point we are missing?

We really want this to work out!

– Helpful Grammy

Dear Grammy:

I lived with family members during my first year of college, and I will always look back on that time with extreme gratitude. I also wonder if I did enough while I was with them to ease their burden for housing, feeding, and basically taking such good care of me.

All of your expectations are reasonable, but I suggest that you take them in reasonable stages. Focus on the transportation issue first, because that will enable her to get herself back and forth to work.

After she moves in, negotiate a reasonable nighttime curfew, and emphasize that she should contact you if she is running late (this is an extremely important safety issue for a new commuter who might be working shifts).

Related: Can college kids peacefully cohabitate with retirees?

Communicating about these practical matters is vital; and you and she should also have regular “family meetings” where you can all bring up matters relating to the household.

Don’t hover over your granddaughter too closely, and understand that she (and you) will occasionally fail.

Don’t only raise those issues where there is room for improvement, but also acknowledge the important transition she is making.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from when a spouse demands immediate attention to DNA surprises. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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