When adult children move back home, so many thoughts and emotions may come into play simultaneously. Both parents and adult children might feel thrilled, excited, nervous, morose, hopeful, or anxious at this sudden and often unexpected adventure. Regardless of how you feel about an old living arrangement that is suddenly new again, know how to ensure the transition back to roomies goes smoothly, so all parties are on the same page.
Adult Children Moving Back Home: Not Uncommon
The number of people living in a home with multiple familial generations continues to be a growing trend. It is estimated that over half of young adults ages 18 to 29 in the United States reside with parents or older familial generations. With so many family members under one roof, it is crucial that everyone in the household gets on a plan that supports all members equally, moves in a positive and productive direction, and keeps everyone happy as a cohesive unit.
Communication Is Key
As with any functional and healthy relationship, communication reigns supreme. Communication between parents and adult children moving home will be critical. The success of the arrangement often relies on a family's ability to create a plan, constructively work out kinks and discuss situations as they arise. Without positive and clear communication, parents and adult children can find themselves living under unpleasant and unproductive circumstances. Before making a move final, know how to best help your family communicate.
Communicate Before They Move In
One of the most important things parents can do when faced with adult children moving back in is to make a plan before the move happens, says Empowering Parents. Sit down with your child and discuss every aspect of what it means for them to live with you.
Things to discuss as a family include:
- Talking about the expectations of everyone involved in the new living situation can keep misunderstandings at bay.
- Make a plan together and check up on progress often, says AARP.
- If there is reluctance surrounding the move home on the part of your child, be empathetic by offering encouraging words often.
- Express what you are willing to live with, but listen to your child's opinion too. Remember, they are no longer young children living under your rule.
- Hammer out those hard lines in the sand. What can you NOT live with. be upfront and honest with your adult child regarding house rules never to be broken.
- Have a timeline as to how long your new houseguest will be staying.
- Who does what? No one wants to feel like they are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to the new living arrangement.
Scheduling regular family meanings can seem like overkill to a house full of adults, but coming together to consciously connect is quite beneficial to all parties involved. Family meetings may strengthen family ties and help family members connect on a deeper level. They foster problem-solving solutions, allow space for all family members to be actively heard, increase the self-esteem of young adults, and serve as a means to check in with everyone in the household during times of transition. When everyone is allowed to communicate their concerns and praises, the family is happier as a whole, harbors less lingering resentment, and continues to function as a unit.
Keep these tips and strategies in mind to run an effective family meeting:
- Start and end with fun. Talking often about what is working can help motivate adult children to be independent. Remember that family meetings don't have to be all business and no fun. They might also include activities like board games, trivia questions, or general moments of storytelling and sharing.
- Consider people's new schedules and responsibilities. Be flexible as to when you choose to hold the meeting.
- Parents should encourage everyone in the household to take part. Just be careful not to do it in a controlling way.
- Have an agenda in mind, but be open to letting conversations naturally take shape.
- You are all adults now, so no one person should "run" every meeting, and all family members should have a say in what is addressed at a meeting.
- Make meeting time device and screen-free.
- Make sure issues are resolved before ending the meeting. Talk through any concerns until everyone is on the same page.
- Be sure to set up the next family meeting before anyone leaves the space. Sure, meeting dates and times may change, but getting it on the calendar will ensure the family meetings don't fall to the wayside when life gets busy.
Yes, your child is grown now, and you will want to make sure you respect them as an adult, but don't forget whose home they are choosing to live in. This is your house, and the children living with you need to respect your rules. Discussing rules upfront and choosing to be direct with your new housemate is a great step to ensure all are on the same page. Compromise where you can, but know where it is not appropriate to bend.
Creating a written contract or lease before your adult child moves in can help both parties feel secure and respected. There is little room for interpretation with a written contract, as everything is laid out in words. You can tailor your written contract to your living situation; when you choose to modify it, make sure it addresses the items most important to you.
Things to include in the contract are:
- Basic household rules such as quiet times, visits from guests, behaviors that will not be tolerated on property grounds, and household responsibilities
- A time frame for your child's stay, in specific language such as "six weeks" or "as long as you are actively looking for a job."
- Expected financial contributions from your adult child
- An exit clause
Help Versus Hindrance
Parents must look at their motives when offering significant help to their grown children. Ask yourself, "Am I doing this because it's best for my child or because it makes me feel better about myself?" No matter your child's age, the goal in parenting is to prepare them for the real world and independence. While you may have the best intentions, doing everything for your child will cripple their ability to be self-sufficient and productive.
If your child asks for additional help beyond a place to stay, consider the following:
- Your role at this stage of life is as a consultant and coach, not a friend or manager.
- Your child is an adult and needs to plan their life now.
- Are they relying on you and not themselves?
- Are they using the money you give them effectively and responsibly?
Furthermore, does the financial help you give your adult child impact you and your lifestyle negatively? 79 percent of parents assist their grown children financially, in some capacity, and it often extends beyond gas money and chump change. A recent report discovered that parents spend around 500 billion dollars annually on grown kids, roughly twice what they put away for their own retirement. Footing bills for grown kids can, in some circumstances, mean putting parents in the poor house. Parents need to define what is helpful and what is a hindrance to their kids and themselves.
Helping Out at Home
As a capable member of your household, your grown-up child should be helping with the typical household business. Sharing household duties and bills can better prepare children for living independently; so be sure to work that into any plans and contracts for adult kids moving home.
Paying Rent and Utilities
If your adult child has a job, there is no reason why they can't contribute to the household finances. After learning about your child's financial state, come up with a plan where they pay part of the rent, or a percentage of the utilities. You might also ask your child to pay for access to a family vehicle, fill tanks with gas when they use the family car, purchase some of the home's groceries, and contribute to communal home products like toilet paper, laundry detergent, and dish soap.
Some parents choose to take their child's rent money and keep it in an account to give back to the child for larger purchases, like buying a house or funding a wedding. Other parents might opt to put money toward their own retirement. Either approach is understandable and acceptable.
Cooking and Cleaning
If your child does not have a job, ask them to do a certain portion of the household chores or home repairs, in addition to looking for a job. Helping with lawn care, laundry, grocery shopping, or cooking can be the adult child's contribution when they cannot financially contribute to the family unit. Moving back in with you should not feel like a vacation, so encourage your adult offspring to adhere to manual contributions discussed before the move. Grounds for failing to keep up with chores might result in an eviction, which should be explicitly laid out in a written contract.
No matter the reason your adult child moves back in, you should put your financial needs first. NBC News reports that adults older than 65 are twice as likely to be retired if their children are financially independent.
Ways to help your child become financially independent include:
- Set boundaries regarding who pays for what.
- Make your expectations clear.
- Encourage your child to open a savings or retirement account.
- Talk about long-term goals with your adult child.
- Teach your child how to budget their money, balance a checkbook, and pay bills.
Gift or Loan?
If your adult child is moving back in with you, it would be reasonable to expect that they might also be requesting money at some point. You can be prepared for these requests by:
- Looking at your finances to see if you can afford to give anything at this time.
- Deciding whether money given would be a gift or a loan.
- Creating a plan to recoup money by considering payment plan options, if it's a loan.
- Acting as a bank by keeping money lending low-risk.
If you or your child are having difficulty with financial expectations, it may be time for a little tough love. As a parent, look at what you may be giving up by helping your child so much. Share these insights in a frank discussion to help them gain some perspective on the situation. In giving your child a place to stay and financial help, you might be:
- Giving up freedoms and privacy
- Delaying retirement
- Weakening your financial future
Parenting Is a Journey That Is Never Truly Complete
Allowing an adult child to move back into your home can be both rewarding and challenging. Remember to strike a balance between your needs and your child's needs, keep overall goals at the forefront of everyone's mind, and openly communicate with one another frequently so that this living arrangement is a successful one.