My 28-year-old daughter has a full-time job, her own apartment and enough money to pay her bills. Thank goodness.
I’m not sure what I’d do if Elyse, who is single, knocked on my door one day and said she needed a place to live. Would I let her move in? I don’t know.
My house is pretty full already with my 12-year-old son, Connor, and our three dogs and cat.
Many parents of adult children face the situation I described. Especially with the ongoing recession, many young people – even those with college degrees and work experience – can’t find a decent job.
So these “boomerang kids” return home. Are their parents glad to see them? Well, maybe not so much. At the same time, most parents wouldn’t turn away a good son or daughter who was really needy.
How to handle boomerang kids: Set guidelines
Let’s say you open your home to your adult child. Now what? You need to establish some grounds rules right off the bat.
“Encourage grads to get work – now,” urges an article on Quicken’s personal finance blog. “For some kids, returning home after college turns into an extended summer break where they sleep in, nurse bruised egos, and lounge in front of the TV.”
That wouldn’t happen at my house if my daughter ever moved back in. And the article says no parents should tolerate an adult child who isn’t looking for a job.
“While it’s normal for a job hunt to take some time, working part time, volunteering, and interning are valuable activities during the job search because they keep a person engaged,” says the article, written by Joelle Steffen.
Alarmingly, a majority a college seniors plan to move back home after graduation because of the dismal job market, according to a CNN.com article.
“Getting a degree used to be a stepping stone to limitless career opportunities,” writes Jessica Dickler. “Now it’s more of a hiatus from living under your parents’ roof.”
Boomerang kids have become so common that there’s less stigma – among young adults and parents – in having them move back, says David Morrison, founder of twentysomething Inc., a marketing and research firm.
“There’s almost an expectation that kids will move back home,” he says. “The thought now is to move home for six to 12 months, but in reality those young adults will be home for a year and a half or longer. Even if they have jobs, they are living at home.”
But should they? No, says an article by the insurance company New York Life.
Everyone loses if the child stays too long
An extended time at home can harm both the young adult and the parents.
“The return to the nest can become a financial burden that can derail the parents’ plans and jeopardize their financial future, especially their retirement, as they try to do too much for their children,” the article says. “For example, if parents pick up a daughter’s college loan, that payment is money not going toward their own retirement savings, very often at a time when the parents need to be stashing cash at an accelerated pace to meet retirement needs.”
The insurance company suggests five steps to limit the boomerang’s stay in the nest. Among them: charge rent and set a time frame for moving out.
“Charging rent, even a minimal amount, helps prepare the boomerang for living independently and helps parents keep up with home finances,” the article says.
Communication between young adults living at home and their parents is critical. It’s hard to fault a parent who genuinely wants to help a struggling child while he or she starts a career.
But the parents should stress that the stay is temporary and intended to help launch their son or daughter into the working world. Parents should stress the financial sacrifice they are making in allowing the grown-up kid to move back home.
Without clear communication and guidelines, a boomerang kid’s return home could derail the start of his or her career and damage the parent’s retirement plans.
As a parent, you have no obligation to let an adult child return home. You’ve done your part in rearing and educating them. But if you choose, let your son or daughter move home for a short period. You’ll be hurting yourself and your child if you let the stay extend indefinitely without any expectations.