Should You Let Your Adult Child Move Back Home?
We’re living in the middle of the “boomerang generation.” Instead of leaving home for good when college graduation hits, more young adults than ever before are returning home. Whether it’s immediately following graduation while they search for a job or a few months or years down the road when a crisis hits, around 39% of young adults defined as those between the ages of 18 and 34-are returning home to live with their parents for a while.
For many parents, deciding whether or not to allow an adult child to return home is a struggle. They want to be supportive and helpful, but they don’t want to allow an adult child to become too passive, relying on them to take care of everything. If you’ve found yourself in this position, there are several things to consider.
What are the circumstances causing a need to move back in? There are any number of crises in the life of a young adult that can prompt the need to return home. It can be a devastating breakup or divorce that leaves them without a place to live. It can be a job loss that has left them without the means to pay rent until a new job can be acquired. It can even be the loss of a roommate. If your child has suffered a crisis, giving them a place under your roof is the natural response. On the other hand, if your child is just fed up with the process of being an adult and wants to come home and rely on you for a while, it might be time to put your foot down.
What kind of relationship do you have with your adult child? Some people have great relationships with their children. They still share similar interests, have similar values, and get along well together. Those people are more likely to thrive in close quarters. On the other hand, some parent/child teams get along better in short doses. While this shouldn’t prevent you from helping a child in need, it might set a closer deadline on the amount of help that you’re willing to provide.
How large is your house? Sure, your adult child is willing to sleep on the couch for a few weeks while they pull things back together; but as adults, you’re all accustomed to a certain degree of privacy. This is particularly important if you’re considering taking in grandchildren along with your adult child. There needs to be room for all of you to have at least a little bit of space to call your own, especially if you plan for this to be a longer-term arrangement.
What services are you willing to provide? If you’re passed retirement age, you might have plenty of hours at home, but that doesn’t mean that you’re automatically willing to dedicate them to, say, babysitting your grandchildren while your child works. You might have gotten out of the habit of preparing family-sized meals and prefer not to go back to a whole family gathering around the dinner table every evening. You also shouldn’t feel the need to do laundry for or clean up after your adult children. While you might not mind taking care of a few of these tasks to help out, you can find yourself quickly resent that need, especially if you’ve had several years to get used to only needing to clean up after yourself and your spouse.
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How long will the arrangement last? When your adult child asks to move back home, how long are they planning to stay there? What are they hoping to accomplish while they’re back under your roof? Discussing these goals clearly ahead of time gives everyone an idea of what to expect. That doesn’t mean that a child who has indicated that they’ll live with you for about six months should be kicked out exactly one hundred and eighty days later, but it should be clear that this arrangement isn’t indefinite. Help your child set goals, and encourage them to reach those goals. If they’re just sitting around all day, taking advantage of a free place to live, the arrangement isn’t benefiting anyone.
Developing a routine with several adults living at home is very different from having a routine with your kids when they’re little. With time and effort, however, it can be beneficial for everyone involved. Ultimately, the decision of how long you’ll allow your adult child to live with you is up to you. The critical factor? How much you respect one another.