So Your Kids are Moving Back Home

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Having grown children move back into your home can really strain some nerves. Before move-in day, make sure you’re prepared mentally and physically.

Get a Grip

According to the 2007 U.S. Census, 14 million adults between the ages of 18 and 24 lived at home with their parents. Want another scary fact? More than 60 percent of college grads move back home and that number is increasing. A competitive job market, the recession and school loans make it tough on a kid. And, to make it worse, There are “children” in their 30s and 40s moving back home as well.

When your adult child asks to move back home, sit back and take a deep breath before you say anything. This is a time to look for solutions, not to judge or blame. Before your child moves back home, work out an acceptable living arrangement before they start moving in with all of their stuff:

  • Have an honest conversation about expectations and needs.
  • Discuss boundaries and unacceptable activities.
  • Talk about making the transition from a parent/child relationship to becoming “roommates.”

Make ‘Em Pay

The hardest discussion may be about paying rent. There are several ways to handle the rent issue:

  • If money is not a concern for you, charge rent anyway. Set up a savings account and give the money back later. It could make a great wedding present, or go toward the cost of a wedding itself.
  • If money is a concern, ask for help with the bills. Even if they just pay the water bill.
  • Make a work trade. You’re not the Super Parent that you used to be. Have the kid mow the grass or start a vegetable garden. Pick a task that would truly benefit you and have them take it over.

Get it in Writing

Even though you are family, draw up a contract. The agreement should include:

  • When they plan to move in and move out.
  • The amount of rent or other payment.
  • Reimbursement for utilities.
  • Chores, such as laundry, cooking and shopping.
  • Special considerations; for example, quiet hours or off-limit areas.

Move Aside

When the kids moved out, you acquired some extra space. Now it’s time to give up some of that space. The questions are:

  • Where will they sleep? Maybe their old bedroom is still available. If not, do you move them into the crafting room or the new home theater?
  • Does the “child” need space to job hunt or work?
  • Do you need extra storage space? A storage shed in the back yard or a rental space may be needed for their belongings.

Show Some Respect

Even though they may be living under your roof, and have an obligation to abide by your rules, your adult children have a right to privacy and the right to live their own lives, and so do you. Here are a few tips for both parents and children:

  • Ditch the criticism and complaints. It doesn’t make anyone happy.
  • Respect everyone’s boundaries. Think before you speak or act.
  • Agree to follow house rules. And, agree to accept the consequences when the rules are not followed.
  • Don’t intrude when doors are closed or when someone is on the phone. It is just plain old bad manners.
  • Give advance notice when having guests. Don’t embarrass family members.
  • Be kind to yourself and to one another at all times.

Be a Family Again

Having the kids move back home can be a good thing. Think of this as a time to grow closer as a family. Make family time a regular part of your routine and schedule time together:

  • Have dinner as a family.
  • Take a walk in the forest.
  • Make a date to go to the movies.
  • Join a social activity or club.

You might be surprised to find that the biggest adjustment necessary is your own perspective. While they’re still your baby, adult children aren’t kids anymore. Patience and respect go a long way toward a happy living environment, so keep this in mind during the initial move in phase. In the end, remember that this situation should be beneficial. If you or your kids are unhappy, it may be better to find another solution. If finances truly prevent any other option, then remind your new tenants that you’re happy to help, but it’s your roof they’ll be sleeping under, so shape up!

Last Updated: January 16, 2013
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About Coletta Teske Coletta Teske has 25 years' experience in tech journalism, as well as home and gardening topics. She has freelanced for Fortune 500 companies such as Boeing and Microsoft, published more than two dozen computer books for Prima Publishing and Macmillan, and worked as a freelance correspondent for West Hawaii Today. Coletta has been an avid gardener since she was 2 years old. While living in Hawaii, she achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a certified master gardener.

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