Boomerang Kids: They’re Baaaack!
You’ve finally become used to having the house to yourself – and then they return. Learn how to live in harmony with your “boomerang kids.”
You’re finally over mourning your empty nest. You have plans to turn Joey’s bedroom into the private study you’ve always dreamed of.
Not so fast! Your children are back, and they have a name – “boomerang kids.” These are young adults who left home but now want to move back in with mom and dad. About 12.5 percent of men and 8 percent of women from age 25 to 34 live in their parents’ homes, according to one study.
A variety of reasons
More young adults are moving back home today because it makes sense economically. They can avoid paying high rent while they get their finances in order. Many are recent college grads who have not yet found their first jobs. Some have lost their jobs or aren’t earning enough to make ends meet.
Other adult children return home for personal reasons. They may be recovering from an illness or going through a messy divorce. Single parents, especially those with very young children, may find solace and support living with their parents until they are back on their feet.
Back on your doorstep
Adult children tend to slip easily into old habits when they come home to live again. Don’t be surprised if they expect to be taken care of. As grownups now, though, they need to understand that the dynamics have changed. It’s up to you to be firm on this score. You don’t need to relive his or her childhood!
It is critical to establish ground rules up front before your adult child moves in with you. Consider setting a time limit for your child’s stay with the option to renew. This will give your child a goal to work toward. It also reduces the possibility that your child will overstay his or her welcome.
Establishing ground rules
Before the suitcases are unpacked, have a constructive, positive discussion with your child about finances, rules, and expectations. This will go a long way toward ensuring harmony in the days to come. Some areas to cover:
- Household responsibilities
- Decide who will do what household chores, such as food shopping, laundry, cleaning, and yard care.
- Talk about mealtime. Will you always eat together? Who will cook and prepare the meals?
- Financial arrangements. Your child should make a financial contribution in some way. It could be based on his or her ability to pay.
- Do you expect your child to contribute to rent, utilities, phone bills, cable, or food costs?
- Does your child need counseling to live within his or her means? If needed, help your child plan a budget and learn how to avoid new debt – don’t simply bail him or her out.
- Review who will pay health insurance, car insurance, and maintenance costs.
- Decide how much you want and can afford to help. Some parents give more financial support than they can afford.
- Household policies. While parents should respect their child’s need for independence, the adult child needs to be respectful of the parent’s home.
- Discuss your feelings about overnight guests or pets.
- Address issues like bedtime, quiet time, and noise levels.
- If there are grandchildren in the picture, be clear about whether you will be involved in discipline issues and how much babysitting you will do.
When children return to the nest, it can be a gratifying bonding experience. It can also be a time of tension and discord. Good communication can help you create an upbeat, supportive environment that is in everyone’s best interests.