Can you help me clarify for her my feelings on this subject?
I can understand how your daughter’s move back home has disrupted your empty-nester peace. It makes sense that you want to set some rules in your own home, but before you can clarify them for your daughter, you’ll want to have a clearer understanding for yourself of your rules and what’s motivating them.
Many parents of adult children struggle with similar dilemmas: On the one hand, they want to help their children in a time of need; on the other, parents have their own lives, and their generosity isn’t boundless. But for various reasons—they don’t want to seem harsh, they wrongly assume that their children are on the same page as they are—parents neglect to talk with their kids about the expectations that accompany the shared living arrangements. And without this up-front discussion, the result is usually similar to what you’re experiencing—resentment and bafflement on both sides.
So what to do now? It’s not too late to have this discussion, but before you do, you’ll need to be rigorously honest with yourself about what you are and aren’t okay with—and why.
For instance, you say that you’ll always offer your children shelter if they “need” it, but what kind of need is your daughter currently in? Perhaps she’s grieving her breakup and adjusting to a new city—both significant stressors, but even so, most 33-year-old adults would be capable of living independently after an initial adjustment period. In your mind, what constitutes a need for shelter, and is there a time limit (one year? Two? Five?) to your offer? If there is a time limit, does your daughter know about it and is she taking steps to meet it, such as looking for an apartment, or a job that will make renting her own apartment possible?
And if there’s no time limit, you need to ask yourself why. Is it simply because you, as a parent, think it’s important for your children to know that they always have a place to stay, no questions asked? Or is it perhaps possible that despite enjoying your solitude, a part of you also enjoys her company and isn’t invested in helping her on the path to independence? Many parents say they want their kids to live independently, but then send mixed messages by failing to create the conditions that would support this desire.
You’ll also want to ask yourself questions like these: How do you want her to contribute to the household while she’s living there (such as taking on certain chores, cooking, maintaining a standard of cleanliness, running errands, buying groceries, paying rent)? Are there any rules around her dog related to, say, access to your furniture, or leaving the dog in your care when your daughter’s not home? Again, there might be a mixed message here: I’m not happy about having you disrupt my solitude by moving in along with your dog, but I also wholeheartedly welcome you and your dog. The more clarity you have around your true feelings with these living arrangements, the more clarity you’ll have when you share your wishes with your daughter in a way that she can understand.