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Moving Back Home: Set Rules With Adult Children

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McLEAN, Va. (10/29/13)--You're finally over Empty Nest Syndrome. Maybe you've taken up a new hobby, or you and your spouse are enjoying getting to know each other again. Then...your adult child asks to move back home ( Oct. 22).
Thirty-six percent of young adults ages 18 to 31 were living with their parents in 2012, up from 34% in 2009 (The Wall Street Journal August). Unemployment, the high cost of buying a house or paying rent, and postponing life events such as getting married are factors. Or maybe a divorce is why an adult child is moving back home.
Whatever the reason, if your little chickadee is coming back to the nest, consider these ideas to keep the peace, based on the Pew Study, "Why Adult Kids Still Live With Their Parents":
  • Discuss expectations. One reason adult kids don't like to leave is they think mom still will take care of everything she took care of before. Decide up front what kids will be responsible for. Examples might include doing their own laundry, cooking, and helping with yard work and shopping. Before kids move back in, let them know if they'll be required to pay rent or for part of the groceries.
  • Ask about goals and timeframes. Ask about their goals and how long they think they'll need a place to stay. A returnee's expectations of a reasonable timeframe to live with Mom and Dad often is much longer than theirs. Outline with your kids how much time you expect them to spend networking and looking for work. Tell them this is a good time to focus on paying down debt and making timely payments on student loans and other obligations.
  • Set rules for autonomy. Just because they're adults doesn't mean your kids don't have to respect house rules. Ask them to send a text if they won't be home for dinner. Even though they no longer have a curfew, they should be considerate and quiet when they return from an evening out. Parents and offspring alike should show respect by knocking before entering each other's private space.
You've most likely met with a financial adviser about retirement planning. That mentor can help you decide what you can and cannot afford to do for adult children. Setting rules before they move back home can help you keep your retirement goals and savings on track.
For related information, listen to the Home & Family Finance Radio segment "Before You Give Your Kid a Loan" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.