It dawned on me the other day, as I was thinking about our Tenants, that many of them, because of this current pandemic, have children who are young adults that would otherwise be away at school, but are now back home taking online classes and eating out of mom and dad’s pantry.
I remember there was a season in our household when this was true. It occurred one summer when all of the kids came home. But they were not “kids” anymore. They were old enough to have soft demands versus shyly expressed desires; and yet young enough whereby saving a few bucks from paying their own rent was quite a helpful resource.
I remember the day that I determined to have a very serious conversation with all three of them. I pulled everyone together in the family room one evening for a “Family Huddle”. I wanted the tone to be somewhat serious, but not dire. I just did not want either of them to presume what I was about to share was a joking matter.
I started by letting them each know how much we love them. And how their Mom and I were excited about their return home. I let them know that it is a season, or with COVID-19 you might say an episode, whereby we see it as a gift to get to know each of them in a whole new way. It is delightful to be back together as a family of five. I also acknowledged that the rules have changed a bit, now that they are no longer young children in single and small double-digit ages. Now they are young adults. So I said, “Instead of having to figure out the household rules, or presuming they are the same as they were before you went off to school, please allow me to describe the status of your residency. You are now what one might call adult guests. And that means you are totally welcome. And we might even surprise you with a showing of hospitality here and there. But if I come downstairs to the kitchen, and there are crumbs on the counter from a sandwich, or some other snack left for someone else to clean, I will let you know that that is not how we do things in our home. It’s not how we roll. But if I come downstairs a second time and the crumbs are there again, then as an adult guest you may be asked to leave.” (laughter)
This conversation was so very needed. It is not fun for children to come home and have to guess what the needs of the parents are in the new season. It can create some resentment. But it is equally not right for parents to have expectations and not frame these new rules of relationship with a clear description of what is and is not expected in their home.
This is a very trying time for parents in this COVID 19 era. Residents live in well-defined spaces that don’t leave much room for additional bodies or irresponsible individualism without there being a severe relationship risk. So as much as we do what we can as landlords to foster community and to keep the property clean and well repaired, inside of the units are people with stories that are being played out every day.
It is our desire at VisionWise Capital that we do what we can to help those who need help during this pandemic economy. Whether it is delivering Gift Cards to help pay for their Thanksgiving meal this year, or a common area barbecue pit and patio furniture to foster greater community, we play a part in the lives of our residents as they invite us in to do so. And we are advocates for parents who are, in some cases, pressed to the edge of knowing what to do with their blessing of children. In fact, it is the job of children to push the envelope. This is one way that they learn and grow into who they will become as adults; but it is the responsibility of the parent to define the boundaries. Our hearts go out this Thanksgiving to parents. We pray that as you ask for wisdom, that it be supplied to you liberally.
Happy Thanksgiving to you All!