There’s a new phenomenon out there: the boomerang kids. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 25% of adults between the ages of 18 and 34 were living with their parents in 2015, even though unemployment rates had declined after the recession.
Maybe your college student is moving back home because school is out or maybe your child struggled to pay bills on their own and so moved back in. Whatever the situation is that’s bringing them home, having them in your house again can be a huge blessing or a parent’s worst nightmare. After getting used to an empty nest, adjusting to your child’s homecoming can be difficult, even if you’re thrilled to have them home. Below are some steps you can take to make the adjustment easier and less stressful for both you and your adult child.
Make sure you and your child discuss finances up front. One big reason why young adults move back home is to save money while searching for work or beginning their career. If they’re only planning to stay a few months to save money, they might not have to contribute much financially. If they’re thinking of staying long term, it’s important to discuss your expectations of their financial contribution. Expecting them to assist with rent, pay for car insurance or chip in for groceries allows them to contribute while still saving money.
This is a perfect time to talk about personal finances with your child, if you haven’t already. Make sure they know where to begin with personal finances. If they’re living at home while trying to save money for a house or pay off student loans, make sure they’re actually doing that. This is not the time to be purchasing a brand-new car that costs a year’s salary, nor is it the time to eat out at every meal.
Of course, it’s OK to splurge a little while they’re working and saving. But if they’re clearing out your bank account while not actively looking for work or contributing to the household, that could be a problem. Make sure they’re actively trying to get where they say they want to go. If they’re looking for full-time work, have them do more chores around the house, volunteer or take a part-time job until they start working. If they don’t have a job and aren’t looking for one, then they probably need to start.
You might be tempted to do your kid’s laundry, cleaning and cooking for them once they come home, but consider refraining. If they were living on their own before moving back in, then they’re accustomed to doing their chores by themselves anyway.
Explain what you expect them to contribute and what you’re willing to do. It’s not too much to ask them to clean up after themselves and help with the household chores. You don’t have to make them cook every night, but it would be nice if they helped wash the dishes, for example. And even if they’re working a 9-to-5 job, they most likely have time to do their own laundry.
New challenges will likely arise now that your child is an adult. Their behavior and attitudes might have changed somewhat since they last lived with you, and both of you should be mindful of that. Boundaries that were needed when they were younger might not be needed now, but the reverse is also true.
Discuss what is and isn’t appropriate behavior around the house. Can they bring dates home? Are they allowed to drink? When are quiet times? Where can they park their car? These are all questions you need to address. They might not agree with everything you think about this topic, but that’s why you need to discuss these things upfront. In the long run, this will make the adjustment easier.
Don’t Compromise Your Financial Stability
Of course you might want to help your children out financially as well as emotionally, but be realistic about how much you can contribute. You want to make sure you’re still contributing to your retirement fund and emergency savings while your kid is living with you. They have years to save for retirement, but you don’t.
Realize Your Child Is an Adult
It’s easy to revert back to old habits, like telling your kids how to handle various aspects of their lives. The truth is this: Even if they need help in one area of their life, that doesn’t necessarily mean they need help in every area. They don’t need to be told how to do everything and don’t need advice on every topic.
Naturally, there are times when your advice and constructive feedback is necessary and welcomed, but not all the time. If you treat them like an adult, they’re more likely to act like one.
Enjoy Time with Them
I’m a boomerang child myself, so I might be biased, but I think my parents gain some benefit from that fact that I’m at home. When we’re all under one roof, we motivate one another to keep our spaces clean, eat more vegetables and go to the gym.
Sometimes having kids move back in is viewed negatively, but it can also be a good thing! You might not have had the chance to spend that much time with them in the past few years, so enjoy spending time with them while you can. They might actually be more fun now that they’re older and more mature!
Advice from a Parent
Barbara Trainin Blank knows firsthand what it’s like to have a child move back home. Her 26-year-old daughter moved back after living on her own for several years. Having been an empty nester for close to eight years, Trainin Blank needed to make adjustments to her own life to accommodate an additional person in the house.
She suggests writing up a contract that everyone can agree to. Contracts should include expectations, rules, consequences for broken rules, and rewards for individuals who go above and beyond what they are supposed to do.
Certain rules should be non-negotiable. For example, they should always keep their room clean and be mindful of noise early in the morning and/or late at night. Remember: This is your home, so your child needs to be respectful of it and you. You’re doing them a favor by allowing them to live at home while they figure out the next step in their life.
The reality is, many students are swimming in debt and are having difficulty finding steady jobs. Allowing them to move back in while they figure everything out can help them financially and emotionally as they transition to the next stage in their life.
The adjustment can be tough at times, but remember that they won’t be living with you forever. Take a deep breath and enjoy the quality family time you can have together, because before you know it, they’ll be moving out again.
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