6 Steps To Keeping Peace In The Family When Adult Children Return Home

By on October 31, 2014

Adult Child6 Steps To Keeping Peace In The Family When Adult Children Return Home

Most parents can close their eyes and travel back in time to experience the peaceful feeling of holding their newborn child for the first time. It’s hard to imagine a more cherished moment.

Of course, then we spent much of the next two decades or so worrying and fretting, doing whatever we could to guarantee the safety, happiness, and future of each child that we welcomed into our home.

As the saying goes, time flew by, and before we were ready, our sons and daughters packed their bags and made us empty nesters.

And now, after college graduation, a fruitless job search, or perhaps a lost job, your baby needs to return to the family home for help.

This scenario continues to play out across the country as our adult children struggle to find well-paying employment. The percentage of 20-30 year olds living with parents has as much as doubled in recent years.

Estimates range as high as 44% of adult kids now live with their parents, and as many as 60% receive some form of financial support.

If you are among the many welcoming an adult child back home, the following are some topics you will want to talk through with your son or daughter. Communication is the key to keeping the family peace, and in working toward your adult child’s eventual independence.


1) The Basics —

Putting some simple guidelines down on paper will go a long way to creating an understanding of what’s expected. Skipping this important first step invites your adult child to resume his or her role as an adolescent. Make sure and cover at least the basics…

  • Will they pay rent? If so, set a monthly amount and payment date. If your adult child is currently unemployed, discuss how much he or she will pay once employed.
  • Chores— Roommates should share the household workload.
  • Groceries— Decide who pays for what, and what extras you will not provide.
  • Vehicles— What are the rules for using your cars? Where will they park their vehicles?


2) Boundaries —

  • Establish rules for shared spaces and hours of operation.
  • “Your friends are welcome in these areas at these times…”
  • “Your stuff goes here, never there…”
  • Set rules for using T.V.s, game rooms, and the home phone and computer.
  • Discuss weeknight and weekend curfews, or at least guidelines to respect.


3) Housekeeping— If your adult child had poor housekeeping habits as a teen, now’s the time to keep the peace by establishing new expectations. Establish housekeeping standards for…

  • Bathrooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Kitchen
  • Entertainment areas
  • Generally—guidelines for what stuff you don’t intend to be picking up and putting away on his or her behalf.


4) Employment Expectations—

  • Minimum job hunting expectations
  • Acceptable job opportunities
  • Temporary job expectations while looking for a career position (Will he or she work retail, food services, etc.)


5) Your Money—

  • Set a budget for any amount you are willing to contribute towards your adult child’s expenses. (College loans, debt service, cell phone, insurance, etc.)
  • Determine how much a working adult child will contribute towards household expenses.
  • Set a deadline or cap when financial support will end.
  • Protect your own finances by monitoring credit card statements, bank balances, and possibly hiding the cookie jar containing your rainy-day fund.
  • Insurance—check with your agent to see if any changes need to be made to homeowners and auto policies.
  • Think long and hard before you cosign any loans for your adult children. See our article, Should You Cosign A Loan for more information.


6) Planning the End Game— Lacking a plan for the cohabitation to end is an invitation for it to go on indefinitely. Some parents, in their exuberance to help their adult children, may be willing to share the family home for an extended period—possibly years! Keep this in mind—making it too easy or comfortable for a young adult to postpone independence is not doing them any favors. Dependence on anything, including your parents, is usually detrimental to your wellbeing. Consider these options for returning to an empty nest.

  • Establish a savings goal or monthly income amount that signifies your son or daughter can afford to lease an apartment.
  • Agree on a timeframe after employment is secured when a move is expected.
  • Set a deadline independent of any other circumstance when you will insist on a move.
  • Prepare your young adult by establishing the habits, routines and responsibilities he or she will need to live independently. (Balancing bank accounts, budgeting, making health appointments, grocery shopping, auto and household maintenance, insurance policies, etc.)
  • Encourage independence by not making living at home so comfortable that only a fool would want to leave. Set boundaries, enforce rules, have high expectations for behavior—in short, make your adult child want his or her independence.

It’s up to us as parents to do whatever we can to support our children, including teaching them how to be adults. Children are a blessing, and successful adult children are a source of pride.

Here’s to hoping you get to enjoy both!

Remember it takes a village—please add your thoughts and suggestions to the comments below, and if you have friends with adult kids at home, please share this post on Facebook and Twitter. (Share buttons provided on this page.)

All the best,

Editor, BoomersKnowHow.com

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