As I wrote in a past blog, when my youngest son, Chris, left home, I didn’t think I would be like those other mothers who cry a river. No empty nest syndrome for me! After all, I had a very full life. Nonetheless, as I watched my baby pack up his stuff and move out, I found myself sobbing, bawling, and lamenting that we only fully appreciate motherhood once it’s gone.
But, like many mothers, after adjusting to the change, I began to enjoy my new-found freedom. My husband and I became connected as a couple once again and life as empty nesters was a fun and exciting time for us. Then the recession hit hard and life changed once again. Like many Baby Boomer parents with children in their 20s, we weren’t empty nesters for very long.
My son, now married, was forced to move back home, along with his wife, when he was laid off during the recession. His wife, Johnni, was working at a teeth whitening dental facility that closed down and became unemployed as well.
Not an uncommon scenario in this recovering economy. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, three in 10 parents of adult children (29 percent) report that the economy forced their grown child to move back in with them in the past few years. Adults age 25 to 34 are among the most likely to be living in multigenerational households.
Because of this phenomena, the term “boomerang kids” has been coined. The phrase often describes adult children who may be lackadaisical about finding work after they finish college. Sometimes parents enable these young adults to continue living like adolescents with a sense of entitlement. If your children are looking at your house as a permanent vacation spot or are using their earnings as disposable income to be used for going out, expensive trips, or sports cars, there’s plenty of excellent information on the Internet for your situation.
In my case, my son and his wife are both responsible adults and there was no need to lecture them on the necessity of finding new jobs or to set a time limit for their stay. This blog will focus on those of you in similar circumstances. Maybe your children are living at home to pay off some student loan debt, are saving to buy a house, or like my son, are temporally out of work. In that case, moving back home doesn’t have to be a negative experience.
However, even if you want to help your children, the new living arrangements will most certainly be an adjustment. So, what can you do to make it a positive experience?
Here are a few suggestions:
Treat Each Other with Respect
Remember, everyone living at home is a grown up now. Providing room and board does not include housekeeping or laundry, so don’t fall back into the habit of washing their clothes, cleaning their room, or treating them like children in any way. Everyone should respect each other’s privacy and be considerate of one another. Discuss expectations. Maintaining open communication can lessen the chance of misunderstandings.
Share Expenses or Household Chores
If your children have a part- or full-time job, you may want to charge rent for their living space. This can help adult children who have recently graduated from college to live on a budget and increase their self-esteem. Many experts recommend charging 30 percent of a child’s income, similar to what a mortgage company estimates a person can afford to spend on housing. Or, if your child is unemployed, household chores such as cooking, cleaning up after meals, or grocery shopping can be shared instead. In some cases, you may choose not to charge rent. When my son and his wife were able to find employment again, we wanted to help them pay off bills and save money so they could move out a bit sooner. In the end, the choice is yours.
Before your adult child moves in, briefly go through each other’s daily schedule. That way you can avoid waking up someone at 5 a.m. to move their car so someone else can get to their job on time. Hopefully, you won’t be sharing a bathroom, but if that’s the case, be sure and determine who needs to shower first in the morning. Be open about what time you need to go to bed so the TV won’t be blaring late at night. If you discuss these matters beforehand, you can stop little annoyances from turning into big arguments.
Although moving back home as an adult doesn’t carry quite the stigma it used to, chances are that this is a frustrating time for your child. Likely, his or her ego has taken a hit. Help adult children stay positive and believe in themselves. Offer financial advice if needed and share your life experiences without being judgmental or critical.
Use these tips and hopefully you can enjoy this time together as adults. Helping your children regroup so they can live an independent life once again, if handled correctly, can be a rewarding experience.