Increasingly, more children are growing up and living at home in their twenties and thirties. Many leave college or university heavily in debt and that, taken with the high cost of borrowing, makes it harder for them to afford their own home. Living at home might sound like a great idea at first, particularly for parents who are still trying to adjust to the ‘empty nest’, but this situation can put additional financial and emotional pressure on families. It can also delay children becoming independent and taking real responsibility for their adult lives.
Tensions often start when so-called ‘Boomerang Kids’, who return to live at home after university, expect things to be as they were before they went away. Many parents have told Family Lives that their adult children can start behaving like teenagers when they come back home, leading to tension and rows.
Natalie Brooke*, 38, moved back in with her parents temporarily to make life more stable for her children as she had to travel abroad regularly. She said: ‘When I was living at home I would pay whatever my parents asked. If they needed a bit extra for a bigger bill then I would help as much as I could.’
Parents sometimes say they feel guilty about setting boundaries or charging rent from their children once those children are adults, but asking them to take some financial responsibility for the home can actually be a very positive step, especially if your child is working.
Sue Atkins, who offers parenting workshops and coaching through her website www.positive-parents.co.uk. says: ‘It’s important for children, regardless of their age, to be independent and take responsibility for their own lives.’
If your child pays rent, it will establish a more positive relationship, and will make your child realise that he or she cannot treat the place like a free hotel. Additionally, charging them ‘house-keeping’ or rent prepares them for their life once they have left home, and teaches responsibility. Jenny Blake* currently has both her daughters, aged 19 and 28, living with her.
She says: ‘I am mindful not to make it too comfortable at home.’ It’s reasonable to expect your grown-up kids to pull their weight around the house. Don’t feel obliged to do their washing, ironing, tidying up and cooking. This gives them little sense of responsibility and no incentive to take steps to move on…My younger daughter does little to help with chores, unless pushed, although she will cook for us all now and again.’
It’s not all bad news, though – some grown-up kids return home determined to help. When Natalie Brooke moved back to her parent’s home temporarily, she did more than her fair share around the house. ‘I took over about 80% of the chores as my parents both work but are pensioners and I just wanted to ensure that they didn't have to do too much,’ she says. The following tips can help parents and their grown-up children live together as harmoniously as possible: If your child is earning, insist that he or she pays house-keeping or rent.
- Set boundaries and clear house rules to ensure that they help out with chores and the upkeep of the houseBe encouraging and supportive, and try not to nag too much
- Encourage regular communication, even if just by text. This avoids misunderstandings and worry, particularly if they keep late hours. If your child has lived away from home for a while they may have fallen out of the habit of accounting for where they are.
- If your child is not earning, find other ways for them to contribute, such as cooking meals or looking after younger children to give you a break.
- Resist the temptation to treat your grown-up children as children
If your child can’t find a job, or seems reluctant to move out, find out if there are underlying reasons. Lack of self-confidence can be a problem. Talk through their worries, and offer to help with a job search in return for help around the house.