Advice for house rules for an adult child


Hello, I just posted this at ask an apologist, but it appears that forum has not been functioning as of late. I hope it is O.K. to re-post here.

I have a daughter that left home at age 18. She has a good relationship with her mother, but is not fond of me at all. She has chosen to cease communications (for a very long time) and has thus far not shown an interest in reconcilliation. We have 7 other children still at home.

After being gone from the house for a few months she wants to return. Everyone in the family, (myself included) loves her and wants her home. My concern is this, because of her lack of interest in reconciling, and knowing that this will mean that she will be in the home but refuse to speak to me, refuse to have dinner with the family if I am there, leave the room if I enter it, etc., and knowing that two of the other younger children share her contempt of me and will likely look to her for example, should we allow her back in the home?

We both feel terrible about the prospect of refusing our daughter back in to our home, but fear worse her possibly hindering our efforts to make our family happier for the younger ones.

I know we can’t ask her to like me, but would it be appropraite to say either agree to be a good example to the younger ones by being polite and handling disagreements with an eye to reconcilliation, or find housing elsewhere?


Whoa…why is she so angry with you???


I wish I could say. She has never really opened up or even “duked it out” with me. There was never any physical abuse or anything remotely like that. My wife and I have had a difficult marriage for years. I was very impatient with her and the kids on a regular basis. She had her problems as well, she was very undisciplined and kept very little order in the house. My children (homeschooled) basically got almost no education and were rarely if ever held to the performance of their responsibilities. My relationship with the kids seemed pretty good through it all until about 3 years ago. Ironically, that is when my wife decided things needed to change, and we began getting counseling. Within 6 months of our starting counseling 4 of my children had stopped talking to me.

My thought is that the stresses of trying to work out our problems had the result of the children choosing sides. Though she meant no harm, my wife showed in many, many ways demonstrated her newfound intolerance and fear of me. In short, in my opinion, the advice she had gotten from a priest had her throwing out the baby with the bath. He should have encouraged her to not lose sight of the good in me and our marriage while we worked on getting rid of the bad.

Her position was that it simply took longer for the kids to realize what a jerk I had been. For much of the past three years she had little problem with allowing the kids to show me terrible signs of disrespect, as she basically sympathized with them.

Anyway, after years of counseling, wife and I are doing much better. Don’t know if we will ever recover completely. dealing with the aftermath of what happened to the kids (whoevers fault it is) is certainly not helping things.


show your daughter unconditional kindess, warmth, patience, respect, love and compassion. If she is hurting you by her actions, just imagine how much you have hurt her to make her act like this. Show her by silent example that you have changed and eventually she will come around.

Just my 2 cents.



The problem is that this situation is pretty entrenched. She has not given any opportunity for her to see anything in me - good or bad. She leaves the room upon seeing the slightest glimpse of me. Will not speak to me about anything - period. And she has done this for a very long time.

I am very concerned about the example she is setting for her younger sisters, as they definitely tend to follow her lead.


I would not allow her to come back home without first agreeing to family counselling. You say that you and your wife had counseling; now it is time to deal with how your rocky marriage affected the children. Your daughter seems to be taking things especially hard, but she is an adult now and miust learn to deal with her anger and pain instead of inflicting it on those around her. I certainly would not allow her to come back home without having her agree to counseling beforehand.


I really don’t think letting her move back in is the best thing for her (or for the other kids, who may be inclined to follow her example). I had a very rocky relationship with my father when I was growing up, for many of the same reasons stated in your post. Forgiveness took a long time for me, and I had to permanently leave home to get to that point. My father and I are on good terms now, but I’ve been out of the house for several years now. We didn’ t part on the best terms when I left.

Sometimes in order to heal one has to remove oneself from the damaging situation. Sure, it would be easier for your daughter in the short term to move home, but how would it help anyone long term?


There are a lot of issues here. Let me first say that you are irreplaceable in your daughter’s life and that your relationship forms her soul and heart everyday. She needs you desperately to be a loving, affirming source of security and strength.

I would start this off by begging her to forgive you. Because you as the adult initiated the injurious relationship. Tell her that you love her and that you welcome wholeheartedly a second chance to heal your family and bring her back home.

Teens and young adults have a solid sense of justice and fairness. Appeal to this. Ask her to go to family counseling. Also, you need to work things out with your wife and children anyway. No disrespect of you should be tolerated in your home. This is what needs to happen: your wife needs to correct whichever child is acting out like this: SO-AND-SO, PLEASE DO NOT SPEAK TO YOUR FATHER THAT WAY. IT IS UNKIND AND DISRESPECTFUL. I LOVE MY HUSBAND MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE AND WILL NOT TOLERATE ANYONE TREATING HIM THIS WAY. PLEASE GO TO YOUR ROOM UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO SPEAK RESPECTFULLY TO YOUR DAD. In this way, your precious children will see that your mother is behind you 100% and when they really see that she will demand this (and you need to demand it when she’s not in the room to witness and stand up for you), things will change. Trust this: your children want more than anything else, a loving secure home. though painful at first, these changes will take root.

I have seven children, we homeschooled, so I know how hard life is for a big homeschooling family. I have had to say this type of thing on behalf of my husband and he for me, when the children get out of hand. With teenagers, it happens a lot. At this point, if your children need to leave the room because you’ve walked in, let them. If they leave the dinner table, let them go and go hungry. They are rightly angry and need time to heal. It is up to you to change yourself in order to bring the affection and trust back into these damaged relationships. It is your job to take the first few steps, not your children. However, this leaving-the-room thing does need to change. I would set a goal, say by Christmas, that this behavior cease. It can’t go on forever. Never, ever give up on this daughter. By the way, what does your family do to have fun together?


establishing house rules is not going to solve or even help this situation. counselling, probably family counselling, to uncover the source of this conflict and resolving it is the only solution. Covering it up and allowing your children to take sides is a highly toxic situation.


Regardless of what has happened in your relationship with your daughter, she simply cannot expect to live in your home if she can’t show you basic respect. And you have every right to demand it from anybody living in your home, regardless of what a “jerk” you may have been.

If she wants to move back home, the main “house rule” that should be agreed on is that she will treat you and your wife with respect at ALL times. Silent treatment, refusing to participate in family activities, rude behavior towards you etc, simply will not be tolerated. “house rule” #2 is for you and her both to go to counseling together.

If these rules are too much for her, then she will have to make other plans.


Hmmm…sounds like there’s plenty of blame for everyone–your wife, the kids, the priest–but yourself. It seems pretty extreme to have 4 children alienated from you–one entirely–by virtue of what your wife did. Sounds like some family therapy is overdue along with willingness to own whatever it is that YOU did to create this wedge with your kids. Until that time, I can’t imagine why your daughter would want to be in your home or how that would be healthy. But it’s way past time to stop ignoring this situation and hoping it will get better on its own.


If she wants to come back home, she needs to know there will be rules.

You and your wife need to decide what the rules are and you both need to enforce them. Your wife can’t let your daughter speak badly about you when you’re not home. I hope you can work it out in time. —KCT


Thanks for the thoughts. We are in a time critical situation as she wants to move back in this weekend.

Cupfullofkindness, to answer your question, we do very little as a family. We just recently started having regular family dinners 3 nights a week or so. That has been great, but the angry kids don’t participate. Sometimes the rest of us will play games, or watch a movie, things like that, but again, the angry ones do not join in.

IslandOaks, I was a bit taken back by your assesment of me. In my posts I mention me having been very impatient with my wife and kids, I mention me being a jerk, I mention that my wife might have “thrown out the baby with the bath” the implication of that saying being that the tub contained both a priceless baby and useless dirty, needed to be gotten rid of bath water. Yeah there absolutely was plenty of smelly old bath water in my ways!

We have been in counseling as a couple for some time. It’s helped both of us. My wife was not inclined to insist that the kids come until just recently, but they are absolutely resistant to the idea. I too, am a bit worried that forcing them to counseling might have little or no effect - or even worse! What do you think?

Why they are so very angry is not just a puzzle to me but to our counselors and to my wife. It seems that being kind and waitng patiently for it all to blow over has had the negative affect of having their feelings and disresctful habits become more and more entrenched.


Do what my dad did to me when I was a teenager in a similar situation. He told me that if I wanted to come home, I had to follow his rules which meant I had to go to counseling and at least make an effort to be part of the family. If I wasn’t willing to do those things, then I wasn’t welcome. I consented to what he said but I did not completely live up to my end of the bargain. I did go to counseling and make an effort so he let some of the other things slide.

Cupfullofkindness, to answer your question, we do very little as a family. We just recently started having regular family dinners 3 nights a week or so. That has been great, but the angry kids don’t participate. Sometimes the rest of us will play games, or watch a movie, things like that, but again, the angry ones do not join in.

It is a good start.

We have been in counseling as a couple for some time. It’s helped both of us. My wife was not inclined to insist that the kids come until just recently, but they are absolutely resistant to the idea. I too, am a bit worried that forcing them to counseling might have little or no effect - or even worse! What do you think?

Counseling can be good or bad depending on the child, the counselor, and the overall family situation. When we were kids, we went to family counseling and it was just plain horrible. My oldest siblings seemed to get a kick out of telling me how much they hated me and everybody else. I had one sister that always got sick or stormed out. My parents tried but the counselors were at a loss and many of us kids were resistant because we saw our parents as the cause of all of our problems. They were very young and immature so they put us kids in situations that kids should not be put into.

Why they are so very angry is not just a puzzle to me but to our counselors and to my wife. It seems that being kind and waitng patiently for it all to blow over has had the negative affect of having their feelings and disresctful habits become more and more entrenched.

I don’t think it will blow over if you wait patiently. There are so many reasons kids can be angry. What kind of school do they go to? There was a lot of stuff that went on in school that contributed to the anger of me and my siblings when growing up.

There was also the fact that my parents were so busy trying to survive and keep their relationship alive that we often got overlooked and ignored and put in situations where bad things happened. For example, my mom sent me to the store with a family friend and the guy took it as an opportunity to feel me up. Another friend picked my sister up from school one day and then proceeded to rape her. Did any of us ever tell our parents? Nope, we didn’t tell them because we didn’t feel it would do any good. I am not saying that you and your wife have done these kinds of things, I am just using these examples to illustrate that a lot can happen in the life of a kid that a parent is unaware of. If a kid does not feel like they can open up to you, you may never know the source of their anger.

Another contributing factor to our anger is how my mother talked about my father. She made all of the older kids scared of our dad. They always went to her and made her the middle man. Instead of talking to dad directly, they went to mom and still do to this day. They have some kind of weird hatred and anger towards my dad that would go away if they would just sit down and talk to him. They have made up their minds about him and are unwilling to see anything good in him no matter what my dad does. It is sad really because they are missing out on so much. My dad is a really great guy that gets sold short more often than not. Based on what you have said, you sound a lot like my dad.

BTW, I am in my 30’s now so I have a little bit better perspective then when I was a kid. My older siblings have never been able to gain that perspective for some reason.


I would think that since waiting it out is only making things worse, that requiring resistant children to attend couldn’t hurt that badly. But that is probably a question that you should ask the counselor. Assuming you would use the same one you have already been to, ask him/her what they would do if you brought a resistant child, and if the child wouldn’t talk. Do they feel comfortable with that situation, and how long would you try it for?

Yes, I also think you should expect a minimum amount of civility from your 18yo daughter, and you should expect your wife to correct disrespectful behavior from any of the kids that is directed towards you.

God Bless,


I have been subjected to the silent treatment at times by family members, and it’s horrible. It’s passive aggressive and unacceptable.
As well as insisting on your daughter attending counselling (maybe let her choose the counsellor?) I would insist on specific acts of courtesy. For example, in my house we say good morning and good night to each other. That’s bare minimum civility. No one is allowed to walk into a room and give anyone else the silent treatment.
If your daughter cannot agree to these minimum standards of courtesy, she needs to find another place to stay.
And your wife needs to stand up for you. That’s part of being a good wife and mother of teenagers.
Good luck.


It sounds like you first have to have a meeting with your wife and then have a family meeting with the ground rules being that you and your wife are the parents and they will honor you. You pointing out what’s great about your wife and she doing the same for you might be a place to start. Then you might also have to step up and take responisibilty (both of you that is) for the chaos that occurred during their growing up. What’s done is done and you can only go on from here.


As an adult who has had ongoing troubles with a parent since childhood, I have only just found the grace to start the forgiveness process through the work of the Holy Spirit.

In talking with a cousin of mine recently who has had the same circumstance in her life, we discussed how all these years of self destructive behavior and bitterness could have been prevented or wounds long healed if our respective parent had just apologized for the hurtful behavior and asked for forgiveness. Sometimes it is just as simple as that.

Children don’t love to hate their parents. They want more than anything to find healing for their open wounds. That healing can only begin if the offender owns up to the damage done or if the wounded goes through enough years of trauma and re-enactment through other failed relationships until they finally look to God for the grace to forgive the offender.

Save your family those coming years of pain, and humble yourself and ask for forgiveness. If you truly love them, you will sacrifice your pride to bring healing to your family.

Don’t make them waste the best years of their lives looking for healing that could start with you now. You could never be a better man than to do this for them.

Just my :twocents:

And my prayers are with you.


Of course you should worry. I think your wife is worried too.

What to do?

You dont let her get away with her tyranny. You establish the rules and you enforce them.

She should be respectful if there is no reason you both have not given her to trust you…

If she can not do this, then she has another problem you may not be aware of.

This sounds like a real problem and one that did not crop up overnight.

I agree with puzzleme—

Get family counselling.


Hopefull Dad,
Praise God that you are hopeful! My family has gone through alot of the same issues. Sometimes it is difficult to remain hopeful.
We have also homeschooled and my dh too was often very impatient with me and the children probably partly because our home and our children’s education has been neglected partly becaused of lack of discipline not only on my part but on the part of my dh. and partly because of health problems I have had.
And part of the situation is that my mother who lived close by would often drop in want to “help” but the directions for the children would get mixed up as she would be bossy and they would end up not knowing who was in charge. I would get upset and want my dh to look for a job elsewhere away from interfering relatives but he would say that was not so easy to do and would say tell her not to come over at school time, but I would feel sorry for her all alone and not stick to that request of my dh to “protect the school day” I would feel that to teach my children to be hospitable to dg was more important the the academics. So many a day they would be told, Close your books and clean up. Grandma just phoned and is coming." as she was always a much better housekeeper than me and would just come in and start cleaning. and that would upset me and make me feel badly about myself and not attend to my children’s education.(academic)

Forward to 15 years later and here I am with some regret that I did not heed my dhs request to “protect the school day” as my eldest is moved out and did not attend college and so I wish we had taught him more academics while he was here. We tried to encourage him to work his way through Junior Colllege but he was not interested.

Our second child has done well in college but says she has struggled because of a lack of discipline in her early educaion
as she says she believes her siblings who are still in school at home need a more rigorous education to make it in college.

And dm has been struggling in her health over the last few years (in her 80s) My children and dh have tried to help her but but have not wanted this effort to get any more in the way of the children’s ed, figuringno one else wiill help them if not me and dh.Nows she is talking of moving to a retirement home (assisted living) I would like to try and take care of her. I have some feelings of wanting to return all the help she gave us., but am praying for God’s will and would appreciate your prayers on this. Our son is starting to do better without college and my other kids at home are starting to get on track with their education. In fact the art teacher for dd told me today that she so much likes to wrok with homeschool children as they have been protected from alot of the -culture.

So I am seeing some improvements in our family too, although our prayer life as a family has ;essened. But I keep praying for my dh to lead us to more prayer, and I know that I have my faults and he has his but we need to forgive one another as Jesus did all of us and trust He can work it all out and get us all where He wants us even if the kid’s education has suffered. “God works all things to the good for those who love Him” None of us are perfect." In weakness power reaches perfection"+ and the academics is not everything. We are trying to raise saints not scholars on our way to heaven and we have been told that since the beginning in the homeschool mivement so the whole focus that college and academics is the saving element has bothered me. I think that attitude makes kids who don’t go to college feel like second class. So keep trying and hanging in there, hopefull Dad and I 'll pray Jesus and Mary will increase the peace and love in your family. Also a group you might find hellpful — and moments of truth on ewtn. Sorry to go on so long but I felt God wanted me to share. I have not felt this desire to do so for over a year and could not sleep so I got up and responded to your thread. Prayers and blessings to you and I hope you will keep me in prayer, especially my oldest son and our decision about how we can best help our elderly mom.

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