Should You Have Rules for 18 Year Old Living at Home?

In many places, 18 years old is the age when someone is generally accepted as being an adult, at least on paper, even if there’s still a lot of maturing and growing up to do from that point.

When you’re a parent and your 17 year old is suddenly 18 and has all of these new freedoms and abilities affording to them by the law, with all sorts of new things that they’re able to do, it can be tricky to navigate

Things To Remember As a Parent of an 18 Year Old:

Your child is an adult now, and there’s a big different between 17 and 18, even if it doesn’t feel that way to you, as their parent, society will treat them a lot differently by affording them new privileges and responsibilities alike.

Rules For Adult Children Living at Home

Rules For Adult Children Living at Home

When your children are, well, adults… the dynamic around the house can start to a change a bit. At the end of the day, it’s still your home, but some of the boundaries and expectations can start to shift and it can take compromises from everyone to make it work smoothly.

Here are some examples of house rules for adult children living at home…

1. “Be in school or be working”

The idea behind this rule is that a teenager isn’t just sitting around the house all day after graduating from high school. The idea is that the parent wants them to either be working a job, or taking courses, or in some sort of school.

You can give your kids a little bit of a break after they finish high school if you want, but if you need them to be contributing to the house in the form of helping out with rent from a job, let them know you’ll need to find a part time job.

Sometimes, these types of rules can push your teenager towards moving out and getting their own place, and once they’re an adult, that’s fully within their rights and it can be good for them.

As a parent, don’t respond to that in a spiteful way, just let them know there’s a room for them if they ever need to come home, if things don’t work out on their own.

2. “Contribute to the home in various ways”

A common way for adult children living at home to contribute to the household is in the form of rent, which parents can put towards groceries, mortgages, bills, utilities, and so on.

The more you want to push your kid towards moving out and getting their own place, the highest rent you can consider charging.

If it gets to a point where it would cost them roughly the same amount to live at home than it would cost to move out, you’ll essentially be encouraging them to move out, if that’s your goal.

But rent isn’t the only way that a teenager can contribute around the house. The expectations in terms of helping out and chores, if your teenager is also paying rent, is something that will need to be discussed and negotiated because things do change a bit once you start charging someone rent, as opposed to them living there for free.

It can be a process that happens as a transition, too, where rent gradually increases as they work more or have less time to help out in other ways.

Ways that teens can help out around the house:

  • Looking after younger siblings
  • Tidying up after themselves, after dinner, in general chores around the home
  • Contributing to bills like internet, groceries
  • Doing yard work, shoveling snow, mowing the lawn

3. “You’ll earn additional freedom, but with limitations”

When your kids have gotten older, you’ve probably added new things that they can do. At a certain point, you probably started letting them stay home alone and look after themselves when you’re out. At a younger age than that, you probably started letting them cook food for themselves for the first time.

When your teenager was a few years younger, they were probably wondering “What can you do at 16?” and as they keep getting older, the list of things they can do on their own gets bigger and bigger, especially when they turn 18.

But just because something is legal or allowed under the law, that doesn’t mean that you need to allow it in your home or for people who are living in your home.

4. “Help with chores”

This could fall under “contribute to the household in various ways” but it deserves its own category.

Teens are going to move out and live on their own eventually, whether they do that in their teenage years or later. Skills like maintaining the home are very useful, life is a lot easier if teens learn these types of skills and how to take care of their homes.

Chores aren’t just a punishment for misbehavior, they’re things that need to be done, it’s not just busy work or something parents assign just for fun or to power trip.

Chores can be a good lesson, absolutely, and they can help teach teenagers good habits around the home and simply enforcing good practices for things that need to be done.

It’s a cliche, but dishes aren’t going to wash themselves, laundry won’t do itself, but if a teen’s parents are always doing all of these things for them, once they move out, they’ll be woefully unprepared, they’ll have a ton of dirty laundry piling up, they’ll have a sink full of dishes, and so on.

5. “Have a plan in mind for the future”

You can’t expect a teenager to have their whole life figured out, and doing so can actually sometimes pressure teens into going down paths they aren’t interested in, like signing up for university classes just because they’ve been pressured to do it, rather than because it’s what they want to do.

Like it or not, this is a time in a young person’s life when they have to start making decisions for themself. You can guide them, and that’s what this house rule is all about.

Having a plan for the future doesn’t mean it has to be super specific, even a rough idea to work towards is important.

A plan could be working and saving up for two years then going to school, or saving up for a year or two and getting into a trade, or taking time to get healthy and work on any personal things and then striking out on their own.

Each teenager has their own unique situations, challenges, goals, and thinks to work towards but just having a rough plan is really helpful, even if everything doesn’t always go according to plan.

The essence of this rule is basically, “don’t be aimless, and if you are, have a plan to not be.”

House Rules for 18 Year Olds? Definitely!

House Rules for 18 Year Olds

You should absolutely have house rules for 18 year olds when they’re living at home, turning 18 doesn’t just magically make every rule disappear.

But there’s a balance to be found, because when teenagers turn 18 they also rightfully expect some certain new freedoms that come with the age of majority. It can be difficult for a parent to create boundaries that give 18 year olds the space they need, while also recognizing that they’re still living at home under the parent’s room, which also acknowledge that legally they are adults now.

House rules for 18 year old living at home, it’s not easy, but it’s worth putting some thought into – you got this!

Sara Dylan

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Sara Dylan is passionate about researching and writing interesting articles to help people. Sara is a prolific writer at, and enjoys a nice cup of tea as much as the next person.