Most grown children shudder at the thought of moving back in with their parents. All parents should shudder at the thought of their kids staying too long.
But boomerang kids are becoming more and more common in our culture. One analysis by the Pew Research Center found that about 22% of 25- to 34-year-olds live in multi-generational households, while another Pew survey revealed that three in 10 parents of adult children said at least one of their kids is living back home because of the economy.
It’s unpleasant to think about, but the fact is that sometimes a person needs to move back home to get back on their feet because of job loss or money troubles. There’s nothing wrong or bad with that. Wrong and bad enter the equation when the adult child starts to settle in a little too much, doesn’t actively pursue a job, and just loafs around all day.
At that point, not only are the boomerangs failing to make the most of their own God-given abilities, but their parents are footing the bill. Some moms and dads have even chosen to delay retirement because they are supporting grown children. Talk about unfair!
Make the Rules
When boomerang kids are living at home, you should make their experience as lovingly uncomfortable as possible. That means don’t let them sleep in every day, eat your food, and go out at night without any responsibilities. They’ll get into a comfortable rut since all their needs are being met. They’ll also lose their motivation to leave and be independent again.
Decide with your spouse what parameters need to be set when a child moves back in. You may want your son or daughter to go on at least five interviews a week or send out a certain number of résumés or pursue networking opportunities. Just give them motivation to do something.
You might even insist they get a part-time job delivering pizza or newspapers so they can have their own money and make their own budget.
It won't hurt to give them some chores. Take the trash out. Feed the dog or cat. Mow the yard. Do some grocery shopping. Just pick out what you need help with around the house and have them pitch in. Most likely, you aren't charging them rent (though some parents go that route), so taking advantage of an extra pair of hands is completely appropriate.
After all, adult children still have a responsibility to honor their parents. In fact, the Bible says that God has promised to bless those who honor their parents—regardless of the child’s stage in life or economic situation (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1–3). And your boomerangs can honor you by respecting the house rules you establish.
Set the Limits
Holding your adult child accountable isn't cruel and unusual punishment. Remember, it’s your house, and you decide who stays there and who doesn't. If your son or daughter sees that they won’t be living on Mom-and-Dad-Will-Take-Care-of-Me-for-as-Long-as-I-Want Boulevard, they will probably start itching to get a job so they can get back to living on their own terms. Giving them requirements keeps them sharp.
An appropriate phrase to remember is “Good fences make good neighbors.” In other words, boundaries are a good thing. We all need some fences around us to keep from wandering too far and to remind us about our limits. It’s also good for our kids.
Setting money boundaries can make the transition from home to real world much easier for parents and kids. Creating and living on a budget tells every dollar where you want it to go. With adult children in the home, this is more important than ever. Don’t let circumstances in your home dictate your budget. You’re in control of your money, and your children need to know that.