For several generations now, most parents have raised their children with the assumption that they would be moving out and making their own homes in their late teens or their early 20s. However, this trend is reversing somewhat, with more young people moving back home or never leaving altogether thanks to a fluctuating economy, skyrocketing housing prices and other issues that make it harder for some young adults to make the leap. Whether an adult child returning home is a temporary arrangement of just a few weeks or months or it appears it will last much longer, it is possible to make this work and even improve your relationship. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
As a parent, you have done a lot for your child, and you probably would do more if you could, but now that your child is an adult, it’s important that you do not endanger your own financial situation in order to help them out. In fact, you may have gone into debt to help them pay for school, such as with a Parent PLUS loan. If you are struggling with repayment now, there might be some assistance available if your child is attending school half-time, has graduated, or is near graduation. You might be able to seek loan forgiveness or refinance the loan and make your debt more manageable. Whether or not you are successful at this, your adult child should contribute to the household financially in some way, whether that is through rent, buying groceries or paying for some utilities. They may be unable to get a job in their chosen field, but they can work at something that brings money in.
Similarly, your child must be prepared to pull their weight in terms of household chores. If you’ve always done their laundry, prepared the meals, and cleaned the kitchen afterward, it’s time to stop or at least slowdown. You might want to have a household meeting about who will do what types of cleaning and errands.
One of the toughest tasks for you as a parent in this situation will be respecting your child’s boundaries and autonomy. You can certainly set ground rules for what happens under your roof, but it is probably best if you step back and reserve judgment about their lifestyle otherwise. In turn, it’s appropriate for you to demand a certain level of privacy and respect as well. Neither of you has the right to pry into one another’s lives.
One way you can help your child while still maintaining appropriate boundaries is by talking with them about their plans for the longer term. This will depend a lot on their personality. Some of them will be itching to strike out on their own again. Others might be perfectly happy to continue depending largely on you. There are certainly situations in which adult kids and parents live together happily and successfully, and it can be an arrangement that is beneficial to everyone, but beneficial is the key word here. Your child should still be independent and should not use living at home as an excuse to shirk responsibility.