Tips to respectfully cohabitate with your boomerang kids
Our 22-year-old son recently finished a college diploma but finds himself without a job, and without a place to live. He seems to think he wants to move back home into our basement, for a while. He wasn’t the easiest teenager and we were pleased to see him mature outside of our home while completing a college education. We are a little wary of him moving back in, because of our memory of some of the challenges with him as an adolescent. Any advice?
A Bit Wary
Dear A Bit Wary,
So, your son wants to become a ‘Boomerang Kid’! You are not alone in feeling a bit wary. ‘Boomerang kids’ are adult children who wish to return to the nest and live in their childhood bedrooms or their parents’ basements. It is a pervasive phenomenon which is on the rise, especially during periods of difficult economies.
According to a Pew Research Centre, 2012, report entitled ‘Who Are the Boomerang Kids?’, 24 per cent of adult children between the ages of 18 and 34 move back in with their parents for financial reasons. 39 per cent of these adults currently live at home or did once, in a temporary return situation. For those ages 18 to 24, 53 per cent live at home now or did for a period of time, as adults. 40 per cent are males and 38 per cent are females. Educational status is not associated with being a boomerang kid in the 30 and under age group. Employment is linked to the numbers with 48 per cent of boomerang kids experiencing unemployment. One third of parents say an adult child moved home because of economic factors. Other research shows that the need for young adults to return to their parent’s home for shelter is linked to financial problems, mental health, exiting the nest too young, alcohol problems, transition issues and the need for emotional support.
The same Pew Research Centre study addressed satisfaction with the living arrangements for both the parents and the boomerang kid. Parents, it seems, report no difference in their contentment with family life than the parents whose offspring are living on their own. 68 per cent of boomerangs cohabiting with their parents are very happy with family life and the impact on their relationship with their parents is more favorable than deleterious. Another Pew Research Centre study entitled ‘The Boomerang Generation’ states “among the three in 10 young adults ages 25 to 34 (who are boomerangs) large majorities say they are satisfied with their living arrangement (78 per cent) and upbeat about their future finances (77 per cent).”
Joe Harker in ‘Boomerang Kids a Problem?’ says that adult progeny returning home to live with their parents can be a struggle. The parent’s life can be disturbed and the young adults may end up being dealt with like juveniles. He says “Nobody is really happy with the situation but for many it is the only option available.”
Cara Mureg, in an article entitled ‘Boomerang Kids: When an Adult Child Moves Back Home’, says the possibility of conflict is huge, while the experience is, in general, temporary and positive, for most people. Her article provides four tips to parents who are entertaining the idea of a boomerang kid:
- Have a frank discussion in advance between you and the adult child wishing to reside in the parental home. Be open, honest, empathetic, and say “no” to anything you are not willing and able to do.
- Set clear expectations for rent, the cost of food and the time of night the boomerang kid is expected to be home.
- Discuss the division of labor within the home, and what chores or share of the domestic duties that the boomerang kid is expected to carry.
- Discuss the young adult’s plans and the duration of time he or she expects to reside with you. Be sure you know how this help will assist your child financially, in the completion of education or development of career.
- Discuss the adult behaviors expected in your home, and do not allow the boomerang kid to regress into any old, unwanted habits of the teenage years.
May I also suggest you educate yourselves about the obstacles that young adults, today, face in establishing themselves independently with school, work and housing, because they no doubt differ significantly from when you were young. This will increase your empathy for your adult child’s situation, and should ensure that your expectations are reasonable.
Should you go ahead with the plan to have your son return to the parental home for a period of time, I hope it goes smoothly for all the players. May you come to see it as a fruitful investment in his future financial stability, his career and his emotional health. Hopefully it will also be a chance to enrich those warm, positive relationships you likely so desire for going forward.
I'm looking forward to your questions! Email me at email@example.com and please put Heart to Heart in the subject line. Note that all columns will remain anonymous.