Father sitting and smiling with adult son

6 Principles to Keep in Mind When Adult Children are Living at Home

Statistics demonstrate that American young adults are moving back in with their parents at an unprecedented rate. In the summer of 2013, Pew Research released a study stating that 36 percent of “Millennials” (ages 18 to 31) lived in their parents’ home during 2012. Factors cited for returning home include avoiding responsibility, failure to thrive, and financial stress.

Americans may be divided when it comes to “if,” “when,” or “for how long,” this is okay, writes Ann Brenoff in her How Long is Too Long? article for The Huffington Post. But there’s little argument when it comes to acknowledging the huge impact “the boomerang child” has on the home they return to. Such a move may be a practical stopgap for young adults, but the effect is far reaching for their parents, and often sabotages plans for retirement, downsizing, lifestyle nuance, travel, and privacy.

Consequently, putting clearly defined boundaries into play will help everyone. Establish rules, expectations, and guidelines designed to make the transition work. Keep in mind that these are ideas that become appropriate when your child graduates from high school or turns 18.

Here are 6 principles to keep in mind when adult children are living at home:

1. Always have a contract.

Prepare a contract agreeable to all parties, to be signed BEFORE the young adult moves in. The contract should outline terms, expectations, time limitations, and all aspects of sharing space that potentially impact either party.

2. Rent will be paid.

Even if rent is low, “token,” or “in-kind,” the principle is important. This both reinforces and gives credibility to the contracted arrangement.

3. Begin with the end in mind.

Moving back is never indefinite. Contracts can be renewed either monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. But they should never be open-ended.

4. Clearly define expectations.

For example:

  • No unapproved overnight guests.
  • Rent is due on the first of the month.
  • “Debris” will be contained to your assigned room.
  • If you live in our home, you attend church with us.
  • Give the courtesy of letting us know if you will be out past midnight.
  • Clean your dishes immediately.
  • Do your own laundry (or it’s included in the rent).

5. Don’t treat them like children.

The contract will help here. They are adults, not kids. So be respectful of privacy and self-determination.

6. Honor the contract.

This is very important. You must ask your young adult to move out if they violate the contract. This provision should be included, clearly, in the contract. The important principle at play here is that of clear expectations and consistency. Having a clear contract is not optional when a child stays home after turning 18.

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