They’re Back…the revolving door of the Boomerang Generation

Why is my twenty-something still living at home?

We probably don’t ask that question out loud, but we certainly think it from time to time.

Studies show that 41% of adult children ages 25-29 still live at home or have moved back home after some time of independence. In the 30-34 age range, 17% still live at home. In the past two years, with the Covid-19 pandemic the numbers have only increased, due to school closings and job losses.

So, what is a mama bird to do? One of the hardest things to do when multiple adults live under the same roof is to define “whose job is it?” for basic household chores. Is it your responsibility to cook and clean up for your adult child? What responsibilities should they be taking on for the household to run smoothly? Does your college student who is used to late hours and sleeping in get to continue that pattern in a house that is used to the opposite? And who pays for everything? Do you charge room and board? There are no hard and fast or even right answers to these questions, but they do pose some of the biggest reasons for stress within a household.

I have been on both ends of the spectrum. My parents were extremely generous with letting my husband and my very pregnant self live with them while waiting several months for our condo to become available. I don’t remember there being much stress, but I do remember longing for privacy. On the other end of the spectrum, both of our now married children lived with us during the year before their weddings to save up money for all the expenses that go with the big day. It was a challenge at times to let them live their lives separately while the rest of the family continued to live ours.

In my resource guide, Preparing to Launch the Adult Child, Again, I give a list of 8 “must ask” questions to help start conversations with your adult child about expectations for living at home and a plan for moving on. We love our kids, and they are still our “kids” even when they are having their own kids, but it is healthier for all concerned when our adult children make their own way in the world. Before there is a chance for resentment or frustration to build up, it is best to establish boundaries. It is preferable for these conversations to take place BEFORE they move back in but that is not always a possibility. So, at your earliest convenience sit down as parents with your children and put the ball in their court. It could go something like this:

We are excited to have you (back) home with us for a while, but we all know that in the end it is probably not the best scenario for you. It seems like a good idea to set some goals so that expectations can be managed.

Q 1. What needs to happen for you to move on independently?

A. I need a job. I need money. I need to heal (physically, emotionally…)

Response: How can we help you achieve this?

Q 2. What contributions can you make to help our household run smoothly?

Non-financial contributions include chores, errand running, tutoring younger siblings, house sitting while parents take a trip. My daughter took on meal planning (with approval) and grocery shopping (with my cash). We took turns cooking. I almost didn’t want her to get a job.

Try to think outside the box. Our son took on farm chores like grooming dogs and cleaning out chicken coops. He found a job quickly but kept up with grooming the dogs for us.

Q 3. What do you expect your schedule to look like? Especially important if there is no job in sight! Give them a planner and teach them how to schedule productive activities. Failure to plan = a plan to fail.

And 5 more, including listing the deal breakers – things that will get you bumped out faster than you can blink. It is your house and you are the parent – make the rules and hold to them.

While it is important for you to remain the one in control of the situation, (it is your home after all) it is also important for the child moving home to know they are welcome and that you are excited for their return and want what is best for them.

Keep things open and up front. Don’t let frustration or resentment sneak in the door with their things. Keep your schedule intact. Pray for your child and your living arrangements and always be ready with a listening ear. This can be an opportunity for family breakdown or an opportunity to learn to love each other in new and fresh ways. Chances are your adult child is a pretty cool person and becoming friends with them as adults is always a good idea.