It's happening to more and more baby boomers: Adult children are moving back in with their parents. According to the Pew Research Center, more than 20 percent of young adults aged 25 to 34 are living with their parents—the highest percentage in 60 years.
We'll leave the discussion as to what's causing this trend to economists, psychologists, and politicians. But if you’re the parent of a so-called “boomerang kid,” there are things can do to make the experience a positive one for both you and your child.
1. Talk with your child and agree on goals. Don't assume that you want the same things. Clearing the air now can prevent miscommunication later.
2. Set time limits. Discuss how long you expect the arrangement to last: Weeks? Months? Years? Certain behaviors may be acceptable for a few days, but not for an extended period of time.
3. Encourage your child to develop a plan to meet their goals. If they say they'll move out in six months, they should have a plan to achieve that goal.
4. Expect them to act like an adult. You may still be their mom or dad, but it's time for them to pick up their own room and do their own laundry.
5. Don't treat them like a child. Don't make rules that are more appropriate for teens, such as enforcing a curfew. Assuming that they can't make decisions and act like an adult only reinforces childish behavior.
6. Communication is key. Most of us don't like to have disagreements with our kids. But burying small problems now will likely lead to bigger problems later. Agree on a non-confrontational way for each of you to address concerns.
7. Expect them to make a reasonable effort to find a job. Until they find employment, that should be their full-time job.
8. Remind them that no job is “beneath” them. Any honest job is better than no job, especially if it’s their first. Unfortunately, a college degree no longer guarantees a great job right out of school.
9. Expect them to contribute physically. You shouldn't have to come home from a long day of work and cook dinner or bring in take-out. There's no reason why your child can't help shop for groceries and cook. The same goes for household chores.
10. Try to avoid "loaning" your child money. It's not good for you, and it's not good for your child either. You may feel foolish for giving the money, since there’s a large likelihood they won’t repay the loan. In lending the money, you’re also encouraging bad behaviors that are more appropriate for a young teenager.
11. Be willing to use "tough love" if necessary. If your child isn't trying to become financially independent, you could be enabling destructive behavior by letting them freeload. Sometimes, the best way to love a child is to see to it that they can make it on their own.
12. Enjoy the positives. If you're old enough to have an adult child, you're probably slowing down. Extra help around the house could be helpful. Use this opportunity to catch up with tasks you've put off.
13. Use the time together to strengthen the relationship. Many adults wish they could spent more time with their kids, so take advantage of this extra time you have together.
14. Be in agreement with your spouse. Make big decisions together. Mom and dad need to be on the same page when it comes to parenting.
Having an adult child move back in with you doesn't have to be a bad experience. Sure, it'll delay your empty nest freedom. But it could be a good way to strengthen your relationship with your child and help keep them from flailing financially.
Gary Foreman is a former financial planner who founded TheDollarStretcher.com. The site features many personal finance topics, including more information on adult children living with their parents.