Health Advocate Blog

Parenting a “boomerang” kid: Set the rules

Your adult child has left the nest and you’ve become comfortable with your new chapter in life.  Suddenly, your child moves back home. So what’s your role now? It’s a common question.  Today, nearly a third of young adults (ages 25-34), return home to live with their parents temporarily, mostly due to financial reasons (like carrying a huge student loan) in a sometimes tough economy.  Here’s how to make this new twist a positive experience:

Set a realistic time limit to their stay. Base it on finding a job, or putting money away for rent. Without these limits, you could find your child making excuses to bunk in your quarters indefinitely. It can be helpful to insist on a written plan with goals and deadlines, and perhaps a written contract signed by both of you.

Set equitable, fair ground rules. Decide who does the cooking, shopping, meal preparation, laundry, cleaning and other chores. Be as specific as possible. No wet towels on the bathroom floor, no food in the bedrooms, etc.

Work out money issues together early on.  If your child is working, they can chip in for household expenses.  If they don’t have an income, they can contribute by doing errands or helping with repairs, for instance.

Give up the guilt about not sharing your wealth. You’ve worked hard for your money, your earning years may be limited, and if you are nearing retirement, you’ll need to be earmarking your money for your own economic changes in the coming years. Making sure your kids are financially comfortable at this stage of life could stunt their growth while jeopardizing your own comfort ahead.

When they have setbacks, resist reverting to rescue mode. You might have routinely bailed them out financially in younger years, but to help your kids grow into responsible adults, it’s essential that they learn how to resolve situations by relying on their own resources. This means they must learn how to make good choices, live within their means, and stick to a strict budget.

Don’t let concerns fester. Figure out a non-confrontational way for each of you to address concerns. Family meetings can be helpful.

Keep up with your own friends and hobbies. It can be a good way to maintain necessary boundaries.

Think of this time of life together as opening new ways to bond. You may be generations apart with different outlooks on life, but exploring a nearby state park or a new community art exhibit can open up new avenues of communication and appreciation between you.  As a bonus, these types of shared experiences are generally low- or no-cost!

For Health Advocate members

If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our EAP+Work/Life Program, consider speaking with a Health Advocate Licensed Professional Counselor who can help provide confidential support with parenting issues, stress, and other personal and work issues. If you’re a Health Advocate member with our Advocacy services, contact us to speak with a Personal Health Advocate who specializes in behavioral health. The Personal Health Advocate can help you identify resources for help.