When an adult child moves back home it can be confusing and overwhelming for everyone involved. Parents who plan ahead and open the lines of communication make the best of this sometimes awkward situation.
According to the Pew Research Center, the number of people living in a home with multiple generations hasn't been this high since the 1950s. Know that you are not alone in this situation, and there are several strategies to use in creating a successful living arrangement with adult children.
Communicate Before They Move In
One of the most important things parents can do when faced with adult children moving back in is to make a plan before the move happens, says Empowering Parents. Sit down with your child and discuss every aspect of what it means for him to live with you.
Things to discuss as a family include:
- Talking about the expectations of everyone involved can keep misunderstandings at bay, according to Bankrate.
- Make a plan together and check up on progress often, says AARP.
- Be empathetic by offering encouraging words often.
- Express what you are willing to live with, but listen to your child's opinion too.
Scheduling regular family meanings can seem like overkill to a house full of adults. However, Psychology Today suggests that family meetings actually strengthen family ties and help family members connect on a deeper level. When everyone is afforded the opportunity to communicate their concerns and praises, the family is happier as a whole.
Keep these tips and strategies in mind to run an effective family meeting:
- Start and end with fun. Talking often about what is working can help motivate adult children to be independent. However, family meetings don't have to be all about discussion. They could also include activities like board games.
- Parents should encourage everyone in the household to take part. Just be careful not to do it in a controlling way.
- Have an agenda in mind, but be open to letting conversations naturally take shape.
- Make sure issues are resolved before ending the meeting. Talk through any concerns until everyone is on the same page.
AARP reminds parents to be direct with adult children. This is your house and children living with you need to respect your rules. Your child is in your home as a guest, not a resident, and should act accordingly.
Things to include in the contract are:
- Basic household rules such as quiet times and visits from guests
- A time frame for your child's stay, in specific language such as, "six weeks" or "as long as you are actively looking for a job."
- Expected financial contributions
- An exit clause
Dr. Phil suggests that parents look at their motives when offering significant help to their grown children. Ask yourself, "Am I doing this because it's best for my child or because it makes me feel better about myself?" The goal in parenting, no matter your child's age, is to prepare her for the real world and independence. While you may have the best intentions, doing everything for your child will cripple his ability to be self-sufficient and productive.
If your son or daughter asks for additional help beyond a place to stay, consider the following:
- Your role at this stage of life is as a consultant and coach, not friend or manager.
- Your child is an adult and needs to plan her life now.
It's important to wait for your child to ask for help, instead of offering it. Hopefully, this will give him a greater desire to try to solve his problems.
Helping Out at Home
As a capable member of your household, your son or daughter should be helping with typical household business. Bankrate suggests that sharing household duties and bills will better prepare your child for living independently.
Paying Rent and Utilities
If your adult child has a job, there is no reason why he can't contribute to the household finances. After learning about your child's financial state, come up with a plan where he pays you rent or a percentage of the utilities.
Some parents choose to take their child's rent money and keep it in an account to give back to the child for larger purchases like buying a house or a wedding. Other parents might opt to put money toward retirement. Either approach is understandable and acceptable.
Cooking and Cleaning
If your child does not have a job, ask her to do a certain amount of household chores or repairs in addition to looking for a job. Moving back in with you should not feel like a vacation, so encourage her to keep busy by providing these types of expectations.
AARP stresses that no matter the reason for your adult child moving back in, you should put your financial needs first. NBC News reports that adults older than 65 are twice as likely to be retired if their children are financially independent.
Ways to help your child become financially independent include:
- Setting boundaries regarding who pays for what
- Make your expectations clear
- Encourage your child to open a savings or retirement account
- Talk about long-term goal
Gift or Loan?
If your adult child is moving back in with you, it would be reasonable to expect that he might also be requesting money at some point. Bankrate suggests you can be prepared for these requests by:
- Looking at your finances to see if you can afford to give anything at this time
- Deciding whether money given would be a gift or a loan
- Creating a plan to recoup money by considering payment plan options, if it's a loan
- Acting like a bank by keeping money lending low-risk
If you or your child are having difficulty with financial expectations, it may be time for a little tough love. As a parent, look at what you may be giving up by helping your son or daughter so much. Share these insights in a frank discussion to help her gain some perspective on the situation. In giving your child a place to stay and financial help you might be:
- Giving up freedoms and privacy
- Delaying retirement
- Weakening your financial future
Allowing an adult child to move back into your home can be both rewarding and challenging. Remember to strike a balance between your needs and your child's needs, and everyone will succeed.