10 June 2014
Boomerang Children: What to Do When They Move Back Home

You thought it was over. You’d settled into a comfortable routine. Your path was clear. Retirement, here I come!

Then, one of your kids gets laid off. No paycheck. No prospects. So guess who moves back into his old bedroom with the high school banners and rock band posters. Like a boomerang, your adult child is back, and perhaps you’ll have to put off those retirement plans for a while.

According to the Pew Research Center, 39% of adults aged 18 to 34 have had to move back in with parents – the highest percentage since the 1950’s.*

Okay, you can’t kick the kids to the curb, but you can set some guidelines to get Junior out of the house faster.

1. Set a time limit for the “visit.” It may take a few months to save up the deposit on an apartment, or to find a job or a roommate.  Give your child time to get back on their feet and find a new job and a new place to live so you can get your den back. Set a time limit. Three months. Six months. Whatever you feel is necessary for your child to recover and become self-sufficient again.

Don’t leave the stay open-ended. It lowers incentive and motivation on the part of the child to take action.

2. Charge rent. Make it a “business” arrangement, not a personal arrangement. You can use the rent money to offset additional expenses, or stash it for your child and present it as a gift when they move out.

3. Set goals. Before a child moves back to the upstairs bedroom, discuss the situation and develop a list of objectives: a job, a new car, a new apartment. Add dates to these objectives and help your child reach these goals so you can get your house back.

4. Don’t finance your child. Some parents may be tempted to dip into retirement savings to help a child get back on his feet. Retirement money should be untouchable. You’ve worked hard, saved hard, and now you have the time to enjoy all that sacrifice. Don’t finance your child’s future. Take care of your future.

5. Lay down the rules. Sure, your little girl or little boy is all grown up, but it’s still your house, so set the rules. Call if you’ll be late. Cook dinner on weekends. Help with household chores. You call the shots in your house, even if you’re living with a 35-year-old man or woman.

6. Keep the pressure on. If your boomerang child plays video games all day long, step in and apply a little parental pressure. Ask for details on each of the objectives set down in tip #3.  Don’t let old habits re-form. Your child may have moved back home, but that’s not the teenager who left 10 years ago. Make it clear that every day, your child must do at least one thing to find a job, a new place, or some other living situation.

Help, but don’t enable an unmotivated child. There’s work to be done and a career to build.

7. Provide emotional support. In many cases, your child wants to move out and get on with life as much as you do.  Use your own network to discover appropriate job openings. Go through the classifieds in the local newspaper. Be sympathetic when a possible job falls through.

When kids boomerang back home, you walk a fine line between helping and enabling. Focus on what’s best for your child, but it’s not selfish to think of your own plans for the future, either.

Define expectations, create a timetable, collect rent, be supportive but also motivate your child to make things better for everyone.

Soon it will be time to move out. Again.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.



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