Parents of 2016 Graduating College and University classes….. Are you prepared? Do you have a plan? They will be back moving back into your home. Why not welcome them with open arms, joy and support while at the same time respect, guidelines and agreed upon expectations. Lovely to have them move back in with a pre thought out date to move back out. 

March, April, get prepared - May, June enjoy their homecoming!

Time to start thinking about your Adult Child who will be moving back home upon graduation from University/College. Right now is not to early to get prepared. Yes, you want to help them and no, you shouldn't have to change your lifestyle. Set guidelines and rules for your new living arrangement but do it with love and compassion. Treat your young adults with respect and give them the benefit of the doubt. If you address them as an adult you are continuing lessons of good parenting and preparing them for a life outside the college dorm and the comfort of the family home. From the beginning be clear with your new arrangement….. a landlord would. This is why I suggest you start the process now. Know what the new living arrangement will look like. Think about this new living situation - every year "kids" (who should now be taken seriously as young adults) move back into the family home and every year most of the same issues need to be addressed. So before they start of moving back in with you dear parents get prepared. Clarity is everything! Guidelines create boundaries and boundaries create respect. Addressing the issues below can help you help them. It's what I call taking 'a sane approach to an emotional issue' by preventing misunderstandings which can lead to unhappiness, anger and resentment. Don't get mad after the fact as your new young adult may not even know they have offended you. Put it in writing.

Some issues to address with clarity and guidelines:

1) Move out date - moving in is the easy part!

2) Living arrangements - What will that look like?

3) Money - Yours, theirs or combo?

4) Social Guidelines - What are they?

5) Household Policies - Most families have them.

6) And additional family dynamics - Between your family.

7) Consequences - What are they? Always important, need to addressed upfront and followed through.

Don't wait until the last minute…..create a plan! Then write it down!!

Over the next few months I'll be writing more about Adult Children Moving Back Home.



Deborah Hutchison - Creator of Family and Friend Agreements  

Adult Child Moves Back Home Agreement



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What will happen to your pet when you die? Do you have a plan? Probably not. And what if you have no next of kin?

My ex-mother in-law, Beverly and I still stay in touch. She is a kind woman who writes funny plays and loves animals. I don’t remember a time she hasn’t had a large poodle or a small Yorkie by her side. Beverly is a widow and her last dog died several years ago.

And so this story begins…. a lady on the condo floor below Beverly was found dead in her apartment. As the neighbors gathered outside in the hallway fireman, paramedics and police entered the dead women's residence. Word came back the lady had most likely been dead for 2 days. There was no next of kin, she lived alone except for Dickie. Sweet, Yorkiepoo, 5lb Dickie, hadn’t eaten, had water or been outside for 2 days. Yet he awaited a far worse fate, with his owner dead, Dickie was now homeless!

The Policemen asked if any of the neighbors wanted to take him. No one spoke. Finally one neighbor asked “What will happen to Dickie if no one takes him?” “We call the dog pound“ came the reply. Dickie was brought into the hallway while the authorities continued their work. The neighbors looked at the tiny ball of fur then they looked at each other and still there was silence. As the policeman reached to dial the dog pound a voice came from far back down the hallway “I’ll take Dickie” said Beverly. The neighbors cheered. The relieved officer passed the tiny orphan over to the big-hearted lady. Dickie nuzzled into her arms.

If my ex-mother in law hadn’t stepped in to take Dickie he would have ended up in the pound. How many dogs, cats, parrots, rabbit’s and other pets end up homeless because of an owner’s death? 

Dickie and Beverly are crazy about each other and have settled in quite nicely. They seem to be the building’s celebrities. Everywhere they go neighbors stop to thank Beverly all the while giving Dickie a soft pat on the head. Dickie will go to Beverly's daughter, Jackie, should something happen to her.



Don’t leave the fate of your pet to just anyone, not all pets will be as lucky as Dickie. 

Many beloved pets are sent to shelters when an owner dies. Could this situation be changed? Yes! Do you have a plan? Probably not. Why not get prepared and deal with the issue. Let others know your intentions should something happen to you or you can no longer take care of your pet. Set up a win/win situation - your peace of mind and your pets happy future.  Get my Shared Pet Custody/Pet Parenting Agreement which allows you to designate who owns your pet (you) and whom your pet will go to when you pass on or can no longer take care of it. 

Even if you choose not to get an agreement please have a conversation with someone and write down your intention. It's an emotional issue which needs a sane approach so put it in writing and show your intention. Don't forget to have the conversation with the person you are designating as your pet's next parent and be sure that they are interested in carrying out your wish. Make a wise move and think ahead!

Deborah Hutchison* - Cheers to love, clarity and guidelines!

*I am not a lawyer nor do I claim to be giving legal advice I'm just suggesting this emotional situation should be addressed.


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As creator of the family and friend agreements I can tell you that I have used each and every one of our agreements except for the Shared Parenting Agreement and that’s because I have no children. I thought it might be of interest to share how I use each agreement and the results I get. After all if I don’t use them then why should I suggest you do?

Loves Logistics – Roadmap to Forever Agreement

Marriage Vows!

“I Do”…. two of the most important words you’ll ever say!

How do I know!!!! I have said those two words twice. The first marriage lasted five years (I stayed for seven) and the second marriage we’ve just celebrated 30 years….yep 30 years with same man.

So I asked myself why did one marriage fail so miserably and the other keep getting better and better? I realized it was all about the “I DO” but did I?

My first husband and I met in High School. We attended different colleges and upon graduation we came home and got married. I like to think of us as babies then and looking back from where I am now we were. I worked while he went to Medical school. Then I started my own business. He was busy at school I was busy at work. I always thought he knew I wanted to have my own business, live in the city, and maybe not have kids. I never knew he wanted to live in the suburbs with a stay at home wife and children. Oops blissful matrimony started to unravel. Love could not conquer all! We were both unhappy. It was a very painful time and I remember thinking the breakdown of the marriage was my fault. I have erased that time of my life and realize that if I had asked the right questions before we got married perhaps I would never have said “I do” because clearly I didn’t.

 So what makes husband #2 and I last for the 30 years and counting? Those same important words “I Do”. Before we were married we talked about our future together. He wanted to live in California I said I do too. I said I wanted to keep my own business he said I’ll support you anyway I can. I said I’m not the best cook and housekeeper. He said his business takes him out of town a lot. I said I don’t think I need to have children he said I’m ok with that. I said I wanted an active social life he said I’m shy but I’ll stand by your side. He said I’ll take care of technology and computers I said I’ll take care of our finances. Then we both said “I Do”


Every few years we bring out the Loves Logistics Agreement and use it as a checklist. It provides questions to prompt discussion about our life changes and new desires. We communicate and articulate together making decisions and agreeing about next steps in life. “I Do” look forward to the next 30 years together.

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All relationships take work. But committed lifetime relationships take a lot of work (and love too!) Combining two lives into one is a process. When two people move in together, marry, or otherwise commit to one another, they may not think past how good the other person makes them feel - they want to enjoy the moment, that great love buzz, and not have their relationship feel like work.

A Roadmap to Forever: Love's Logistics Agreement provides couples with the tools for working together to explore and discuss the important questions all successful, long-term couples must ultimately answer. For example: Where will we live? What will our life together look like? Do each of us want children? What are our individual views on religion? How do we each deal with money? 

The most important element of a successful union is good communication. Unfortunately, too often we don't start talking until something already has gone wrong. Wouldn't it make more sense to discuss the things that can cause trouble in a relationship and come to some compromise on these issues before making a long term commitment?  By choosing to take the proactive approach, you and your partner are demonstrating to each other your love and desire to work together on one of the most important relationships you will probably ever have. 

Take a "Sane Approach to an Emotional Issue" and give our agreement a try!


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The reality of our parents growing older can creep up on us. One day Mom is busy shopping, gardening, visiting friends, while Dad is taking his usual morning jog around the neighborhood. The next day, one or both parents can become ill or incapacitated, and just managing the basic functions of daily life can quickly become impossible for them.


The Family and Friends Caring for our Aging Parents Agreement provides children of aging parents with a framework for creating a constructive conversation among siblings about how to take care of our parents as they age. Perhaps one sibling will be designated to accompany the parent on doctor's appointments; another might take on the task of working with parents on their financial or legal affairs. At a certain point, one sibling may become the primary caregiver and the Caring for our Aging Parents Agreement will help spell out how others will contribute so that the primary caregiver is not alone or feeling taken for granted.


Working through this agreement while parents are relatively well and independent is the ideal situation, helping all members of the family realize what will be involved down the road. The Caring for our Aging Parents Agreement will help siblings work things out together, talk through difficult issues, and keep the family bonds strong.


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A Sane Approach/Family and Friends Agreements does not, in fact, have a Mother-in-Law Agreement. But the notion has been suggested to us enough times as the traditional wedding season approaches that we thought - Why Not?

The Family and Friends Agreements offer clear guidelines to help individuals clarify potentially emotional situations, reducing the chance of heated arguments and hurt feelings. 

Our Blank Agreement for Any Arrangement is the perfect template for any number of person situations - even between a new mother-in-law and son/daughter-in-law! Our blank agreement helps identify the nature of the agreement, the goals and obligations, and how you will communicate. Finally there is room for special circumstances or requirements.

So if you are faced with a potentially stressful or challenging emotional situation within a personal relationship, why not download our blank agreement? This simple form will help you take the steps needed to preserve those relationships that are most important to you. 

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Make sure the arrangement works to everyone's advantage!

Borrowing a friend's vacation home can be a great opportunity to get away during the summer, and save on expensive hotel bills. On the flip side, lending your vacation home to a friend can be a great way to get additional use out of your vacation property, and perhaps defray some of the costs. If you are the owner of the property, it can be a wonderful way to offer an enjoyable and meaningful experience to friends and family you care about.

However, what begins as a thoughtful or practical arrangement can quickly go downhill if expectations are not clarified. For example, your friends may use your Florida condo and crank up the a/c while keeping all the doors and windows open - not realizing that utilities are extra and you are expecting them to pay their share. OR, although it may seem obvious to you that "where I go my Alaskan Malamute goes", your friends didn't realize your dog would be sharing the guest cottage they lent you and now are furious about the dog fur they have discovered on the couch!

The Family and Friends "Lending Your Vacation Home" agreement helps clarify expectations around utilities, number of people (and pets) sharing the home, what happens if something breaks or gets damaged, and more. Additionally, there is space for the lender to list favorite restaurants and activities in the area. At the heart of an arrangement to share a valued vacation home is the desire to share a special place with friends and family - download the  "Lending Your Vacation Home" agreement and ensure that this experience will be a positive one all around!

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