More and more children are making the return home after college and university. Post secondary education is more expensive than ever before, and leaves kids often high in debt and without a job yet. Having them move back in may seem like the logical next step, and may sound great to both parents and kids alike.
It is however important to take caution when allowing children back into the home. This is going to cost money, and emotional energy, for both the parent and child. It will also not be the same as having them live at home as a kid, as most children by this point consider themselves to be young adults.
This means that they want the freedoms of being treated like an adult, without paying rent or contributing meaningfully, and won’t necessary be earned. Consider Ericka. Ericka moved home for a few years after college, and fondly reminisces about the affordability. “I paid them whatever I could afford, not more. If they needed more, I tried, but there was never any pressure.” This situation was probably fun for Ericka, but stressful for her parents.
All too often parents in these situations assume the child can’t afford any financial contribution to the home in moving back in, after all why else would they have come? Yet this is not necessarily true, particularly when they start working, and rent can be a great way to keep the relationship clear. Parents can be happy to welcome their children home, but these are adult children who should be expected to contribute to any home that they live in – both household wise and financially.
Sue Atkins of Positive Parenting UK highlighted this when she was quoted as saying “Kids of all ages need to feel the weight of responsibility to encourage independence for themselves.”
One of the reasons that this is so critical is because allowing children to move back as young adults can actually slow their progress into adulthood if careful boundaries are not set. They can start to feel like they’re “back at home” rather than temporarily using a place while they try to get elsewhere.
So charge them rent. Don’t do their chores, expect them to contribute. This is not a free hotel it’s a temporary home at this point. It can feel like tough love but your kids will thank you for it – and some of them expect it. Sarah, who moved in with her parents for a few years in her early twenties expected to do chores, and in fact took over most of the housework while she lived at home and paid some rent.
Even kids who can’t afford to pay rent can ease the burden of being at home by taking over housekeeping for you. This will give them adult responsibilities around the home and encourage them to continue on their path toward adulthood. Figure out what your kid is good at, and how they plan to contribute, they often have an idea of the things that they can do around the house already.
If the child isn’t moving on, or is resistant to contributing, sit them down and talk to them. Figure out what they’re thinking about and what their plans are for the future, and help them form a plan if they don’t have one – but don’t let them continue to sit without a plan.
No matter what you do with an adult child there will be some struggles, but these can be minimized with clear boundaries and contribution outlines.