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By Danny Ritz
Creating a positive atmosphere when an adult child moves back home
The phrase “boomerang child” might seem more fun than it is, for everyone involved.
With an increasingly competitive job market—a result of rising college graduation rates and decreasing job opportunities for most of the last decade—adult children are returning home to “the nest” more than ever before.
In a study conducted in 2012, the Pew Research Center found that 29 percent of parents reported the economic downturn had caused their children to move back in with them within the past two years.
“A generation ago, living with your parents wouldn’t have been accepted if you were an adult,” said Christina Newberry, author of The Hands-On Guide to Surviving Adult Children Living at Home. “That stigma isn’t there anymore.”
Experts universally agree that frowned upon or not, such living arrangements can be a positive experience, but can also be cause for family conflict if strict guidelines are not set and adhered to.
With a recovering but fluctuating economy, and the high cost of living familiar to Southern Californian residents, we’ve compiled a few guidelines from the experts that should be agreed upon in multigenerational homes to secure both financial progress and peace of mind.
- No Freeload Zone
It is suggested by experts to set a pre-determined rent, or room and board price, that is comfortable for both parents and children returning home. Establishment of this precedent is beneficial to the parents who can be proud that they are instilling independent values in their children, and also will build confidence in the adult child who can feel they are making a tangible contribution to the home.
- Nothing Is Not an Option
Ideally, the adult child is earning some income, and the return home is temporary due to an unfortunate or unforeseen incident, but it is important to remember that even if this is not the case, there are options. Parents might suggest that adult children, in the interim, perform odd jobs or tasks around the home in the parent’s place to save money.
- Respect the Space
It is important for parents of multigenerational homes to establish pre-set ground rules and proper habits concerning guests. These can be individual to each parent’s needs, but topics such as the number of guests, romantic partners, and personal habits such as drinking or smoking, should be discussed to avoid both figurative, and literal, pollution of a parent’s space.
- See the Light
“Don’t assume your child will leave when the time is right,” Newberry said. A “move-out” goal date will help the adult child that has returned home reach independence as they pursue a new life-path under a deadline. Presuming the intention of desired independence of the adult child, these timelines should be realistic and made to the comfort of all parties involved.
- Stand Your Ground
It should be understood that if these guidelines are not strictly adhered to, the adult child will not be able to maintain a residence in the home. “Many parents who have adult children living with them are too timid and always tip-toe around their kids,” says personal finance expert Lynette Khalfani-Cox. “If anything, it should be the other way around.”
Living in a multigenerational home can be a positive experience for both the adult child and their parents if guidelines such as these are adhered to. Clear communication, honesty, and respect for the consequences of not following these guidelines can ensure that a house actually remains a home.
Read more of our Aging Well special section here: