Starter Template for Family Contract Between Parents and Your Young Adult Child
The purpose of this document is to spell out what we expect from you and what you can expect from us during the next _____________ months. In short, the goal of this contract is not to control you, or to force you to be like us. Rather, the goal is to prepare you for your own life, financially independent from us.
We acknowledge that having us involved in your life in this way will have it’s challenges for you and for us. Therefore, we want it to be as temporary as possible—just long enough to propel you on your way.
We want to provide support for our efforts as much as possible. If you don’t want or need our help, then none of this is our business. However, if you want our financial and/or other support, then we must work out the terms of our involvement so that we all have the same expectations going into this agreement.
As your parents our commitment is to love you and launch you into successful, satisfying living as an adult who is both independent and connected. We believe it is your responsibility to be engaged in full time activity with the goal of becoming your own person as an independent adult. For example, this would mean a full-time job or full-time schooling/training. If there are health or mental health issues preventing this, we expect you to view your full recovery and healing as your full-time job. This could include rest ordered by a physician, medical treatment, programs, doctor’s appointments, therapy, physical therapy, AA meetings, or anything else that is important for your full recovery and becoming an independent adult.
Even though you are a legal adult we are willing to make it our temporary job to encourage and prepare you for independence from us. We are willing to help guide you through a successful period of launching/relaunching you from our home into being a responsible, competent, and loving adult. We take our role in loving you into independence very seriously and we want you to take your role and responsibilities seriously.
2 Primary Challenge
Carefully describe the problem here in 1-3 paragraphs: e.g., “young adult leaving college early due to an illness and moving home to heal and prepare for resuming college.” The challenge here is the problem combined with the goal to address the problem. At a minimum, the desired outcome of the family contract should be clearly and simply stated.
3.1 Greater demonstrated capacity for responsible decision-making means greater freedom from parents’ control
3.2 As your parents we have non-negotiable commitments as well as negotiable preferences as to how we work together
We want to work with you, as three adults, to craft a plan that works for all of us. We are willing to rethink things and be persuaded by you to alter our approach, as long as these new approaches don’t involve us forsaking our core principles or non-negotiables. For example, one of our non-negotiables is that you are spending approximately 8 hours per day engaged in activities that challenge you to recover from whatever is preventing you from independence, training/schooling, employment, or some combination of these.
3.3 We want to give you as much freedom to make your own decisions as is appropriate for your stage in life and for the realities of the current situation.
3.4 Your current health/mental-health needs require us to be (temporarily) more involved in your decision-making than what we would be if you did not have these health needs.
4 Necessary support roles
For each of the applicable roles below, briefly answer the questions,
- What will this person do?
- For how long?
Expert in _________________
Expert in _________________
Parent or Other Relative
5 The terms of our agreement
5.1 What We Expect from you
5.2 What you can expect from us
5.3 How and When We will evaluate progress
5.4 How we will solve problems together as they arise
5.5 Parent’s non-negotiables for this contract
List here the core values and expectations that are not up for discussion for the parents. They can be clarified. For example, a non-negotiable might be, “When a doctor certifies that you are ready for school again, you will resume your education.” Or, “Parents will only pay as long as the young adult makes getting well the top priority and participate fully in treatment.” Or, “You will sign a limited authorization with your therapist so that every 3 months we can have a family session to discuss your progress in general terms.”
5.6 Young adult’s non-negotiables for this agreement
List here the core values and expectations that are not up for discussion. For example, “I will be able to continue playing guitar.” Or, I won’t be forced to ______________”
5.7 How we will solve problems together
Spell out frequency of family meetings, summary updates from therapist or physicians, and what we do if we all feel stuck. E.g., “If one or more of us is very dissatisfied with how the process is going, that person will ask to have a planning meeting with a therapist or counselor.”
6 Other Items