June 2

How to Communicate Boundaries with Adult Children


Hospital visits are never fun, but you’re grateful for the time you got to spend with your daughter. She lives a few hours away from you, and you don’t get to see her often, so even though you wish it were for a better reason, you’re glad you had the opportunity to see her.

The problem is, she’s been staying in your home, taking care of you for the last three weeks, and you’re ready to have your house to yourself again. You appreciate her going out of her way to come and help you while you recover, but how do you politely tell her that she is hovering and it’s time for her to go home?

We understand that it’s never easy to communicate boundaries with your adult children. You love them very much, and you are happy to spend time with them, but they have lives they need to focus on and get back to themselves.

Let us show you some ways that you can reassure them you’re ok, so they feel comfortable leaving you alone.

1. Communicate Your Feelings

Your daughter notices the changes happening to you as you get older, and is concerned. She feels like it’s her responsibility to take care of you and make sure you have everything you need. When she sees you struggling and needing help, she feels like she is obligated to return some of the care and affection that you gave her while she was growing up.

While you appreciate her good intentions and you’re glad to spend the extra time with her, there comes a point in time when she has to return to her own life and go home. You aren’t sure what to say to her that gets your point across without hurting her feelings, so you don’t know what to do.

When you find yourself stuck in this type of situation, the best thing you can do is be honest about what you’re feeling and reassure your daughter that you’ll be ok. Tell her how much you appreciate her help, and thank her, and then ask her when she is planning on returning home.

If your daughter says she plans on staying for a while longer, let her know that you’re ok and she shouldn’t feel like she needs to stay. If that doesn’t work, politely, but firmly, tell her that you have some things around the house you want to catch up on, and it would be easier to do it after she goes home.

It’s important to remember that your daughter loves you, and she isn’t trying to step on your toes and cross boundaries. She wants to feel like she’s doing everything she can to take care of you and help you.

While communication is key in this situation, there are some things you can do to prepare for the next time this might happen, so that you can avoid having this conversation again in the future.

Recommended Reading: 6 Tips for Communicating with Your Adult Children

2. Discuss a Timeline For Visits

Your daughter likely doesn’t realize she is infringing on your boundaries or that you are ready for her to go home if you haven’t told her. One thing you can do to prevent that discussion next time is to discuss how long your daughter will be there as soon as you know she will be staying with you.

Be realistic about how long you need her to stay. When possible, talk to your doctor and ask them how long they think you may need help, so that you can relay that information to your daughter.

You might even find it helpful to have your daughter speak to your doctor herself. In doing so, she’ll be able to ask them the questions she has, and the reassurance from a medical professional that you’ll be ok without her help will make it easier for her to go home when the time comes.

In accordance with HIPAA regulations, you will need to give your doctor written permission for your daughter to speak to them about your medical history.

Discuss the length of her visit beforehand, so she has plenty of time to make arrangements for things on her end as well, such as finding someone to house sit her pets or get her kids to and from school while she’s staying with you.

3. Discuss Your Eating Habits

Your daughter might be grocery shopping and preparing meals for you while you recover, so you need to discuss your eating habits with her.

When she doesn’t know what you like to eat or what your doctor recommends for your diet, she could end up purchasing a lot of food you can’t eat or making things you don’t like.

Communicating about your eating habits from the beginning keeps you from awkward conversations later, or having to eat food you don’t like just because you don’t want to hurt her feelings.

Your daughter will appreciate your honesty, and she’ll feel much better about cooking for you when she is 100% sure you’re going to like what she makes—and that it’s ok for you to eat it.

Recommended Reading: Ask the Expert: Fewer Secrets Now, Fewer Headaches Later

4. Make a To-Do List

Grocery shopping and cooking isn’t the only thing your daughter will want to help with while she’s taking care of you. She’ll probably offer to help you with chores and tasks around the house.

While you’re glad to have her help, there are some things you might prefer to do yourself. By making her a list of chores that you wouldn’t mind having her help with, you can avoid unpleasant situations

Perhaps you could ask her to do some light cleaning, help with dishes, do some dirty laundry, or maybe help take out the trash.

By making her a list, you let her know how she can help, and you ensure that she won’t be finding things to do on her own that might make you uncomfortable.

5. Create a Back-Up Plan

Reassuring your daughter that you’ll be ok if she goes home is much easier to accomplish when you can tell her that you have a well-thought-out back-up plan in place.

Your daughter probably worries about you having a medical emergency or an accident and being unable to get help. As much as you might hate the idea, consider getting a medical alert device, such as Life Alert, so that you can get help in case of an emergency.

You can find examples of the types of medical alert devices available here: Ask the Expert: Fall Detection.

Your daughter will feel more comfortable about leaving you alone when she knows you have an easy way to get help if something were to happen to you.

If you don’t think a medical alert device is adequate, or don’t like the idea of wearing one, an Aging Life Care Manager might be a better fit for you. An Aging Life Care Manager can make frequent house visits to check up on you, and if you sign up for our AOS Cares program, you’ll have access to our 24/7 emergency line.

You can find out more about the AOS Cares program and how to sign up for it here: AOS Cares Program.

If your daughter is concerned that you don’t have someone to help you around the house as you recover, consider using our private-duty caregiver registry to get help with running errands, preparing meals, laundry, and other tasks.

Not sure which option is the best fit for you? Request your free consultation with a member of our team and we’d be happy to help you weigh the pros and cons.

Summary: How to Communicate Boundaries with Adult Children

You love your daughter very much, and you’re so grateful for all her help, but it’s time for her to go home, and you don’t know how to ask her to leave without hurting her feelings in the process. What can you do?

Try out these five tips to get your daughter to go home when she’s hovering, and you’re ready to get your privacy back:

  1. Communicate Your Feelings: telling her how you feel in an empathetic and respectful way is the best approach when you’re already in that type of situation. In the future, try out the other tips below so you can avoid having that conversation.
  2. Discuss a Timeline For Visits: ask your doctor how long you’re going to need your daughter’s help and relay that information to her before she comes. Knowing the information came from a medical professional reassures her that leaving you alone is ok, and she’ll know how long she needs to stay and when she can go home.
  3. Discuss Your Eating Habits: your daughter will most likely be grocery shopping and cooking for you, so she needs to know what kinds of foods you eat, and if you have any dietary restrictions, so you don’t have to worry about not being able to eat what she makes or pretending to like something you hate.
  4. Make a To-Do List: let your daughter know what tasks and chores you don’t mind her helping with so she doesn’t overstep boundaries or hurt your feelings by messing with possessions you want to be left alone.
  5. Create a Back-Up Plan: make your daughter feel more comfortable leaving you at home by having a back-up plan in place. Purchase a medical alert device, hire one of our Aging Care Managers and sign up for our AOS Cares program, or take advantage of our list of private-duty caregivers you can hire to get help with tasks around the house. Request your free consultation with a member of our team to find out which option is the best fit for you.

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You know this won’t be the last time your daughter has to stay with you, and you have many challenges ahead of you when it comes to your health and the level of care you could need in the future.

You want to make things easier on your daughter, and yourself, which means you need to do more research to find something that could help.

We understand the importance of finding a balance between getting the help you need and maintaining your independence and privacy, and we’re here to help.

“Jennifer has been a great resource for my mother and our entire family. My siblings and I are spread out throughout the country, and until recently, none of us were living in North Carolina. I called Aging Outreach Services when we became concerned about the challenges my mother was experiencing.


Jennifer was very friendly and informative at the first meeting. She did a thorough on-site evaluation of my mother and then followed up with a detailed written evaluation and plan of how AOS could assist.” – Mary Harris

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Navigating life after 50 can be complex for you and your loved ones. We're here to help with tips, advice, and answers to questions. When you sign up for our newsletter, we'll let you know by email when we publish new articles that can help you.

About the author

Amy Natt, MS, CMC, CSA

President & CEO, Aging Life Care™ Manager

“I am dedicated to working with older adults and their families to maintain dignity and enhance their quality of life.”