Adult Children Living at Home: 6 Best Tips for Parents
Having put four kids through college, I’ve experienced the Boomerang Kid scenario several times. I got used to their brief stays over school breaks and we learned to adjust, even for a whole summer. The biggest surprise was the extended visit during the pandemic of 2020 that doubled our household size overnight.
And here we are again, facing not one, but two boomerangs. With the recent college graduations of our final two kids (Woo-hoo!), our daughters are both coming home for…a while. With student loans to pay, an uncertain job market, and the cost of housing, it makes sense for them to avoid paying rent for a time.
Are you making way for ducklings as well? Is your college kid returning home for the first time and you don’t know what to expect? Do you have a boomerang flying at you and you’re not sure how to catch it?
Let’s start by remembering our kids are no longer children, but rather young adults. They’re old enough to marry, buy a house, and have their own children, whether you (or they) are ready for it or not. With that adulthood comes a strong desire for independence. This means as parents, we step out of our former role as disciplinarian and commander-in-chief, and become (hopefully) a trusted advisor and friend instead.
Here are the Adult Children Living at Home: 6 Best Tips for Parents to help you avoid potential conflicts, build lasting relationships, and gracefully catch that boomerang, and to live happily together.
DIVIDE HOUSEHOLD DUTIES
If you don’t want to take on hours of extra work or spend all of your time nagging your young adult about cleaning up their dirty dishes, it’s important to assign chores and responsibilities early on.
If your daughter had chosen (or hopes) to live on her own, she would do her own cooking. Every night. Asking her to make one or two meals a week not only helps you out, but is good practice for her. If your son has been away at college, he has learned how to do his own laundry. There’s no reason that should stop.
FIGURE OUT FINANCES
Don’t be afraid to talk openly about money. Or the lack thereof. For many young adults, it makes good financial sense to go back to their old digs for a time. As long as Mom and Dad haven’t downsized their home and there’s still a room available, why not? But this is usually not what either party desires for the long term.
You can prepare your young adult for eventual independence by teaching them fiscal responsibility now. In exchange for free housing, require them to keep a budget, to pay off student loans, or even pay a small sum for the privilege of living at home. Review money matters with them regularly and determine what means are available as you help them plan a course of action for their financial future.
If your child seems to be free-loading or taking advantage of you, it’s time to draw the line. Require job-searching goals and actions. If they can’t find their dream career, they may have to settle for flipping burgers for a time. Encourage them to move toward independence by setting reasonable limits on your handouts.
DON’T FORGET DETAILS
Your adult child receives many fringe benefits by living at home. Make a list of what you will provide and what you expect them to pay for or do in return. Don’t forget about internet, cell phones, and streaming services. Who will use them? Who will pay for them?
What about transportation? Will you be juggling cars and who will pay for auto maintenance, insurance, and gas? If they don’t have means to pay in dollars yet, barter for a service, like mowing the lawn or weeding the garden.
COMMUNICATE AND COORDINATE
Will you be home for supper?
Where are you going tonight?
Will you be out late?
What time do you work tomorrow?
Rather than a barrage of nagging questions, keep a family calendar to avoid schedule conflicts and surprises. Use texts or phone calls to check in. Let your young adult know what you expect and also what you need. Do you and your spouse miss your freedom and alone time? Let your kids know you want one night a week “sans kids.”
Check out my Happy Together Checklists for talking points you’ll want to consider in kicking off clear communication. If it helps to put things in writing, consider creating an informal “lease,” outlining expectations for both sides.
ENDURE, THEN EMBRACE
Your standards of cleanliness and tolerance of clutter may differ from your young adult’s. Rather than make unrealistic demands that will erode your relationship, find a balance that you can both live with. What seems like laziness or a waste of time to you, might be relaxation for them. Permit them to have their own habits and space as long as it doesn’t take away from yours.
Remember, your child has grown and changed while away from home. Friends, professors, and mentors have shaped them. Their choices are not a reflection of only your parenting, but also of many outside influences. Make room in your life and heart for the mature adult they are becoming, with their own opinions, gifts, and personality.
BENEFIT FROM BONUS TIME
The Boomerang Kid days allow extra parenting opportunities. I’ve had many heart-to-heart talks with my adult children and have taught them skills and lessons we had little time for during their busy younger years.
Use this added time to give instructions on cooking, gardening, and home maintenance; medical insurance, retirement plans, and career goals. Discuss issues of faith, values, politics, and current events. You can still be an influence in your adult child’s life, so listen with an open mind while giving advice sparingly and with love.
Finally, use this “bonus” time to build deeper, lasting relationships. Find interests you have in common and pursue them together. Eat meals as a family. Vacation together. Encourage your young adult to attend worship with you. Seek opportunities to laugh and have fun together.
Before you know it, your nest will be empty and quiet again. You’ll miss the youthful energy, the conversations over coffee, and the joy of watching your child take their first steps…into adulthood. But in the meantime, follow these Adult Children Living at Home: 6 Best Tips for Parents as you get ready to catch that boomerang and live happily together!
CLICK HERE to access the FREE Happy Together Checklists! Spend 15 minutes upfront to save hours of potential conflict and misunderstanding. These questionnaires–one for the parent(s) and one for the boomerang kid(s)– cover expectations for household duties, food, finances, freedom, privacy, and more!