With a sluggish economy and a tight job market, more kids than ever are moving back in with Mom and Dad. The intent is most often to help the young adult get on their feet, find a job, or save money so they can launch successfully. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 29 percent of 25 to 34-year-olds have lived with one of their parents in recent years. These arrangements can work very well, or they can be stressful and end poorly. During this transition, it’s important to set clear expectations and maintain good communication. Here are five keys to make these arrangements work:
1. Set Expectations, and Write Them Down – In my experience, the most common reason these arrangements go badly is because the parents and the child do not have clear expectations about how everything will work. Parents can fall into the trap of thinking things will be similar to high school. Many young adults find that unreasonable given they have been living independently and making their own decisions for four or five years. It makes sense to talk about expectations in advance and negotiate the differences. Writing down a statement of understanding adds a sense of formality and gives each party a touch point to refer to if there are any future disagreements. Here are some of the most common points of contention:
- Will the child pay rent or share in the household expenses?
- What are the expectations for household chores?
- What if you have a disagreement, how should the situation be addressed?
- Are there any expectations about staying out late?
- What are the rules about household guests? Can they stay overnight?
2. Set an End Date – Setting an end date clarifies that this is a temporary situation, and gives a clear date to revisit the arrangement. The date can always be renegotiated, but the end date schedules a time in advance to reset expectations.
3. Encourage the Child to Set Goals – Once expectations and a time frame are set, parents should help their children establish a goal plan to meet these expectations. Most often this involves a job search. The child should understand that until they have a full time job, finding one should be their primary focus. They should outline an action plan with key steps and milestones.
4. Get on the Same Page with your Spouse – Making sure that both spouses have the same expectations is very important to being consistent and ensuring that the arrangement will work for everyone.
5. Enjoy the Experience – One of the big positives of a child returning home is that the parents get to spend some additional quality time with them. Use the time as an opportunity to enhance your relationship by enjoying time together and creating memorable experiences.