You did your job. You raised your kids and sent them off to college. They had four glorious years away from home and finally graduated from college. You thought you were home free. But wait; they are moving back home! You finally got used to having an empty house and are enjoying the quiet time with your spouse. Now you have to turn your craft room back into a bedroom and rearrange your life for your adult child, who, despite his $30,000 (or more) degree, can’t seem to find a job!
These days, the above scenario is happening more often than not, with unemployment rates rising and recent college graduates having trouble finding jobs in their fields. Here are some of the ways your adult child living at home again can cause a major shift in your lifestyle:
- A decrease in privacy – it comes with the territory.
- Cleaning up after someone else (you will soon begin to notice those piles of laundry stacking up outside his door)
- Feeding and cooking for an extra person
- Wondering “when is he gonna move out?” but perhaps be afraid to directly address the issue. This can cause anxiety, tension, and stress.
- Increasing disagreements with your spouse over expectations, rules, and boundaries.
Adult children moving back home with Mom and Dad will undoubtedly cause emotional, financial, and even physical (extra housework, etc) strain. What can you and your partner do to ease the burden?
- Set boundaries. It is important to do this from the beginning to set the ground rules for this new arrangement. Yes, your child is now an adult and got used to independence. However, he is living under your roof again and it is your job as his parent to help him live a safe and happy life. You don’t need to give him a curfew, but do ask that he shows you respect by letting you know when he’ll be gone for an extended period of time (like all night). This will save you some unnecessary worry when at 6am he still isn’t home. Furthermore, it is not unreasonable to demand that illegal activities (i.e. underage drinking or illegal drug use) be prohibited in your home.
- Make it hard work. You should expect your child to take care of his own needs-doing his laundry, cleaning up his room and bathroom, even cooking his own meals if he doesn’t eat with the family. He is a grown man and took care of himself away from home-it is reasonable to expect him to do the same now. Think about it: if you take care of everything for him, what incentive is there to move out on his own?
- Charge rent. Obviously, if your child does not have a job, you will have to be creative on this one. I do think it is important, however, for the adult child to contribute financially in any way he can for several reasons: 1) it gives him responsibility and accountability, and 2) he is less likely to spend the money he has on non-essentials. Even $10-20 a week to start is better than nothing. Of course, if you notice he is going out drinking, spending money on entertainment, or buying useless stuff online, charge more.
- Demand to see progress. It is fair to expect him to be applying to jobs and going to interviews on a regular basis. Getting a job will be how he will eventually move out and be on his own again. Ask him to keep a weekly log of his employment contacts and check it each week.
- Finally, for the stress this situation will inevitably cause you and your spouse, take some time to talk it out. Discuss what’s working and what isn’t. Problem solve together, and decide on a course of action that best meets your needs. To reduce the already built up tension, take some time away from the stressful home environment by going on regular dates and spending quality time together.