Follow my blog with Bloglovin Do you have adult children living at home? “Boomerang kids” who left the nest but then found themselves back on your doorstep?
Someone once told me that they couldn’t wait until their children turned 18 and out the door they’d go! I, on the other hand, remember being crushed when my oldest daughter left at 18 to join the Navy. (I know, I know, I should have been all proud and patriotic – but she was my BAAABYYY!).
But then the next daughter wasn’t quite as quick to leave the nest. And then the third one – well, she left for one year before the phone call came: “Mom? Can I move back home?”
Since then, they’ve all been out and back at least once (some more than once….). Most recently, after a stressful year, my middle daughter and her husband finally moved out to their own apartment, leaving us, again, with an empty nest. When they first arrived, their baggage included two cats, a bird, and four ferrets! Where to draw the line?!!
A recent study by Pew Research showed that 36% of 18-31 year olds currently live with their parents. Many are college-educated. (A Time magazine study showed that up to 85% of college grads move right back home after graduation!).
How do parents feel about their adult children living at home? A Coldwell Banker study indicated that older parents (55+) want the kids out within four years of finishing college, while millennial parents are more patient and are okay with up to eight years. Another 70% of people believe that adult children living at home are taking advantage of the situation, and are just a bit lazy.
And while it is more expensive to get on your feet these days, as parents we need to ask ourselves some important questions:
Are we enabling our adult children by doing too much?
Are we making it just a bit too comfortable for them to leave?
And really, how much ARE we responsible for in helping them get on their feet?
I can’t answer those questions for you – each of our situations is different.
But I can offer you my top five tips for dealing with adult children living at home.
#1. Keep the lines of communication open. They aren’t your sullen, cranky teenagers anymore – you can talk to them about how having them back in the house is different than when they were younger. When something becomes irritating – speak up! Letting it fester just builds up stress in everyone.
#2. Establish some rules. Tina Drakakis over at scarymommy.com says rule number one should be that adult children living at home contribute financially to the household. My husband and I went back and forth on this one. If they’re giving us money, they aren’t saving it for a deposit on an apartment (or car or whatever they need). We decided to charge a nominal rent and save the money until it equaled a down payment (not for a house, just an apartment!) so we could give it back to them. However, we we kept more than we had planned because we noticed really quickly that some of our bills (like internet, electricity and natural gas) were greatly increasing. Other rules that you may need [to keep your sanity] may involve curfews or expectations (i.e., you must have a job or be going to school). But don’t overdo it – keep it simple and straightforward.
#3. Create a balance. Yes, your rules should still apply. But no, you don’t have to share an opinion on every single thing they do. The dynamics have changed. Figure out how to allow them their independence, while respecting your home.
#4. Take on new roles. The Huffington Post had an interesting suggestion: Don’t go back to old patterns (like where mom cooks and cleans and everyone else sits on the couch and watches her!). Again, open communication – establish new family patterns where everyone chips in with cooking, housework, etc. Make a schedule of whose night it is to cook, who is cleaning what, etc. Don’t assume saying “I need you to pitch in” will get it done. Be specific: “I will do the cooking but you are responsible for your dishes [since they will most likely be eating at different times than you] right when you’re done.” (These sound like more rules, but you are really just establishing new patterns of behavior from when they were home as a child.)
#5. Create a plan of action. We learned this the hard way! If there isn’t a plan – WRITTEN DOWN – there will be no action (i.e., movement towards moving out!). It can be flexible and adjusted along the way. (They got the job, but then the car broke down so + 2 months), but it has to be done.
And here’s a bonus, and most important tip: Moms and Dads of these adult children living at home ~ TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! You’ve had a lifetime (or at least 18+ years) of taking care of everyone else. This should be your time to enjoy each other’s company or pursue hobbies or travel. Don’t let your children’s poor planning or life choices ruin yours.
By following these tips, you should be able to cohabitate peacefully for a while longer. Maybe you’ll even come to enjoy the extra time together!
How are you coping with your adult children living at home? Leave me a comment – I would love to hear from you!!