“Boomerang Kids” – not so empty-nesters!

Is your adult child returning to live with you? Maybe they never left! How unusual is this and what are the steps you can take to make it a workable even pleasant situation.

Our children are the most sustainable connections any of us have. The bond between parent and child is typically resilient. When your adult child returns or continues to live with you generally for economic reasons the boundaries can get complicated. It doesn't have to be this way. With good communication and strong guidelines, sharing your home with grown children can be pleasant and even reinforce those unique bonds.

Adjusting expectations:

Memories of childhood years often play a significant role in possible conflict. Your child is no longer! Just as you are not the same person as you were as a child, neither are they. The have fully formed opinions on life and those opinions may not line up with yours. You must afford them the same courtesy you would a guest in your home. Reflection on your relationship with your own parents might provide guidelines of respect for differing principles. Don't expect more than you receive. Admire the exceptional qualities your adult child possess and take pride in your good parenting.


If you adult child has moved home, consider how they may be feeling about the change and what brought it about. Failure as a parent is not the reason your adult child is returning home; nor did he/she fail as a person. We live in very tough times and circumstances change in everyone’s life. Your adult child is probably coming home as a last resort and they will be rather sensitive with their own feelings of failure. It may be a situation of a job loss, financial downturn, divorce…whatever it is, bringing the subject up over and over serves no purpose. Let them heal in the sanctity of an emotional safe haven.


It’s time for new beginnings. Focus on the positives about the people you live with rather than the negatives. If your son/daughter is prone to leaving dirty dishes around the house or allows laundry to pile up, gently remind your child that this is your home and you like it tidy. If that doesn’t work, remind yourself that your “relationship” is more important than dirty dishes or laundry. Parent-child connections can easily be damaged by continued criticism. Instead, think about how much fun it is to converse with your offspring as an adult or simply to have his or her company. However there are limits and you should not allow yourself to be treated disrespectfully by your adult child. Perhaps approach the situation the same as you would in the workplace; firm but respectful!

Slipping backwards

It is very easy for both parties to slip back into a typical “parent/child” relationship; with parents doing most everything for them, and your adult child slipping back into patterns of childlike behavior. This is not appropriate or healthy, now is the time to create a more equitable arrangement. If you want assistance, you will have to ask for it, and be very specific. Say, "I need you to pick up milk on your way home” or "Cleaning your room is your responsibility.”!

Money Matters:

Moving back home solves many of your child’s financial problems but it shouldn't create new ones for you. It is best to straighten out the details in the beginning and adjust them along the way so everyone feels the arrangement is fair. The situation may demand that your adult child does not contribute financially for a period of time. This should be reviewed at regular intervals and they should contribute to the household as soon as they can.

Sharing the load:

You must have everyone in the household contributing in some way. There is laundry cooking shopping etc. that needs to be shared amongst everyone. Decide who does the tasks from which everyone benefits and in which everyone should participate. A fair division of labor will make those in the household much happier.

Respecting the Boundaries:

Natural boundaries separating you from grownup children occur routinely when you live independently; they are formed either by the physical distance or the amount of contact you have. Living together again can blur the lines. To protect your physical and emotional boundaries, limit the amount of information you share about your personal life, and don’t ask personal questions of your adult child.

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