Managing boomerang kids!

Sue Atkins

– Sue Atkins is a UK-based internationally recognised parenting expert, broadcaster, speaker and author of Parenting Made Easy — How to Raise Happy Children (2012)

During the pandemic lockdown, my son has lost interest in academics. He is in class XI and despite my best efforts he shows no motivation to pursue schoolwork seriously. Please advise.
— Manasi G, Bengaluru

A good starting point is a non-judgmental conversation with your son about what’s worrying him. This will help you to try and transform his negative attitude into positive motivation. The pandemic has disrupted academic calendars worldwide and many children are finding it difficult to cope with online classes. Work together to find solutions to this problem. Encourage him to take regular breaks from academic work. He could exercise or go a walk, watch a movie, read a book, cook, chat with friends, or sketch during study breaks.

My college-going children have returned home to live with me through the pandemic lockdown. While things for the most part are going well, I often wonder if I am controlling them too much. I feel that after going to college, they have become more irresponsible, lazy and messy about the house. So, I tend to shout and yell at them. Should I back off?
— Jocelyn Bangera, Bengaluru

Most parents of boomerang kids find it difficult to adjust when adult children return home to live with them. With colleges shut and work-from-home policies in force during the past nine months of the pandemic, many young adults have returned home to live with their parents. The best way to adjust to this new situation is to set simple, clear and specific house rules. Try these practical tips:
 It’s your house and you get to set the house rules
 Draw up an agreement on sharing household chores and stick with it
 Accept that you have to change your behaviour with adult children
 Insist they inform you when they are coming home late at night
 Be firm, fair, consistent and respectful
 Don’t wait on them hand and foot
 Don’t micro-manage and control them
 As parents you are role models. For instance, if the dad expects mum to do all the household chores, the adult child will too
 Don’t ignore bad behaviour. If it upsets you, speak to them about it. Work out compromises, solutions and ways forward. Don’t let resentment, anger and arguments build up.
Boomerang college kids won’t stay at your home forever. But while they are at home, it is an opportunity to nurture and strengthen familial bonds of love and respect.

I feel the past nine months of the pandemic have sapped out the joy of parenting. With children at home all day and my hectic work-from-home routine, the stress and frustration of managing it all is making life unbearable. Help!
— Depressed Mom, Mumbai

You need to carve out some ‘me’ time to replenish your energy and motivation. It’s important to be in good shape emotionally, physically and mentally, to be able to care for your family. Start with remembering what you enjoyed doing most before the children were born and replicate the experience with your husband and/or college/university or professional friends. This will release positive happy memories and rejuvenate you.

Second, perish any ideas of being the perfect parent. Being a perfectionist is unrealistic and exhausting. Third, delegate household chores to other family members.

Giving yourself ‘time out’ and ‘me time’ is vital to respecting yourself and valuing the very important mother and care-giver’s role you discharge.

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EducationWorld September 2022
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