Adult Children Living At Home – How To Approach It

If you are a parent with adult children living at home with you, you aren’t alone. More and more “boomerang kids” – those that left to go to school or move out on their own at one point – are finding themselves living back home with their parents. A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that 25% of parents have one or more of their adult children living back at home with them, while a 2007 Canadian census showed that 44% of adult children between 20 and 29 have moved back in. While there are many reasons why adult children could be living with their parents, right now most of the blame falls on the economy and the recession.

The recession has made it more difficult than usual for new graduates to find gainful employment, especially with experienced workers finding themselves unemployed for months or even years. Without a job, it’s impossible for these young people – who are usually without much savings yet – to pay their rent or make payments on a vehicle, and they find themselves eager to return to the comfort of their parents’ house where rent and food is often free. And while some parents may be okay with their adult children living at home, there are positive and negative aspects to doing so. So let’s take a look at a few of those, and investigate some helpful tips for making such a relationship work for both parents and children alike.

Advantages to Having Adult Children Living at Home

  • Parents will have more help around the house, whether financially or in physical work
  • Children get a chance to save money, try a new career, and otherwise have a chance to get back on solid footing
  • Offers opportunities for parents to get to know their children as adults
  • A chance to build a stronger bond between parent and child

Disadvantages to Having Adult Children Living at Home

  • Can be a drain on parent’s finances if they have to monetarily support their kids
  • If the child is not respectful, this relationship can lead to stress and fighting
  • Over-parenting and enabling an adult child can lead to them to not taking responsibility for their future
  • Lack of privacy for both parties, parents and children

Tips for Parents of Adult Children Living at Home

When you have adult children living at home again, it’s important to set up boundaries and rules right away. Having these in place will help ensure a smoother transition to your child being at home again while also encouraging them to act like an adult with responsibilities. You definitely don’t want your 25 year old to act like he or she did when they were 12! Here are some important tips for parents with adult children moving back in with them:

  • Have them contribute something towards the house expenses. By requiring them to pay rent or buy groceries, it helps to instill a sense of responsibility and how much it costs to run a household.
  • Chores are not just for teenagers. Require your new boarder to mow the lawn, do the dishes, cook dinner, or clean the house.
  • Do your best to understand their situation and offer assistance when needed. Unless your child is a slacker and just sleeping all day, chances are they do eventually want to move out and could use your guidance on how to make that happen.
  • That being said, remember that they are adults. You don’t need to keep tabs on them 24 hours a day or ask them to report to you. If they were on their own, you probably wouldn’t have any clue what they were up to each day.
  • Lastly, set a time limit for their stay. While this time limit can be adjusted later if need be, an adult child needs to be independent and move out at some point. Having a time limit in place would encourage them to find work and start setting up a life on their own.

Tips for Adult Children Living at Home

As an adult, moving back in with your parents can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, you can have a chance to regroup, maybe save a little money, and enjoy some of mom’s home cooking again. But on the other hand, you are back under your parent’s roof and will need to abide by some of their rules again. Here are a few things to help make that transition home again a little smoother:

  • Pay for as much as you can afford. Moving back home isn’t a free ride, and you are an adult now. It’s time to take responsibility for yourself and pay for whatever you can with your own money.
  • Continue looking for work if you don’t have a job or are underemployed. Not much would upset parents more than to see their adult child sleep late and play video games all day long.
  • View living at home again as a privilege and not a right. If your parents are OK with you moving back in, don’t forget how much it could impact their plans for their life post-children.
  • Save your money. If you still have money left over after expenses and helping your parents out, put it away for a rainy day, AKA when you move out. You’re going to need that money for move-in expenses on your new apartment.
  • Don’t wear out your welcome and stay longer than you need to. Your parents did their job; it’s time for you to do yours.


With the economy showing no signs of a quick recovery, chances are that even more parents will have their adult children living at home with them again. But with open and honest discussions about expectations and goals prior to move-in, it is possible for these “boomerang kids” to make a successful transition back under their parents’ roof and then back out into the real world. Respecting boundaries set forth by both parents and children alike is the single most important factor to pay heed to. By doing that, it’s a relationship that will work out quite well for both parties.

So, do your kids live at home? How do you approach it?


Adult Children Living At Home – How To Approach It — 24 Comments

  1. I moved back home for a few years while my husband finished school again (age 22-24ish). I don’t think I could ever do that again! Adults all need their personal space and I like to control the thermostat!

  2. I am with Glen, I could not imagine sticking around that long. I think if it’s done there needs to be clear and open dialogue as to expectations of the adult child to help prepare them to be out on their own and help support the household while there.

  3. Ugh, I would never move back in with my parents, unless I absolutely, positively, had to. Many of my fellow classmates from university voluntarily moved back into their parents homes after school, and I can’t understand that! I need my own space, my own independence. My parents have given me enough.

  4. My brother is a boomerang, however he moved back in 12 years ago and never moved out. I’ve realized he’s probably never going to move out. On the one hand, I think it’s good for me (from a selfish perspective) – it means he has to help out as my parents grow old (one of my parents is 80 now). Yet, on the other hand he’s so irresponsible, I’m not sure how much help he’ll be when things get serious. I’ll still probably have to step in and make “adult” decisions. My mother likes to remind me that many adult children are living at home (but her percentages are fabricated at around 67%!) Excuses, excuses.

  5. I love that you call children returning to live with their parents “a privilege not a right.” I’ve written about boomerang kids on my blog twice in the last two weeks and that is the key take-away point!

  6. I spent 2 months at my mum’s place during summer, in between houses. She never asks how long I will stay but she knows I will never overstay my welcome. I am not expected to buy anything so I do chores, cook for her and last time I painted her living room and kitchen. I also sent her to pay her mortgage early and saved her more than a couple of months’ rent!

  7. This is very close to the bone for us.

    We have two older sons plus an 11 year old. The older lads went off to university to study, during which time we supported them. When they finished, the eldest came home and tried to get a job in teaching without success and that went on for a few years which was not good for him and not good for us although the 11 year-old brother loved having him around!

    DS2 had actually left home at 18 and worked before going to college and when the time came, he asked whether he could come back. Well there was no alternative really because sleeping on the streets is not nice and he had no money.

    In the meantime, DS1 got a job in a bank so at least he could pay us a little more money so when DS2 came back (without a job) we suggested they found a house together, which they have. We realised that a third person would always be an outlier and anyway we had to guarantee their rent so this was the neatest solution.

    We helped them move (financially and practically) and they now live together reasonably happily. In fact most of the house leg-work is done by DS2 so it will be interesting when (not if) he does get a job!

    I don’t know what we would have done if they didn’t get on well or we had big rows but they are lovely lads who just want to get on with their lives.

    The upshot is that IMHO it is better to help them find accomodation outside, even if it costs. That way they can start their independent lives and when they come to dinner or to sit with their little brother, it is a pleasure to see them and we are starting to form a better adult-adult relationship with them. Because if they are in your hom, unless you own Downton Abbey, it is always your home and they are always the children.

    Both of us left home at 17 – I certainly couldn’t wait – so this is quite a new thing and it took quite some time to undertand.

  8. Contributing something is definitely a must! My neighbor is a 34 year old male who still lives at home after 12 years. He just bought a $48,000 SUV!

    I’m jealous. 🙂


  9. One benefit to having grown children in the home for a few years is that you’re allowing them to save significant money. Now, if they spend it frivolously (like many probably do) then it just might be detrimental.

    However, if a kid saves a decent amount of money when younger and living at home, and then invests it, it could form the foundation for a nest egg for the kid’s future. That is one thing to consider, that there could be a significant benefit you’re giving your kid that will be more than meets the eye when viewed with a long-term perspective. Remember, there is great power to compounding.

  10. I lived with my mom briefly while my husband and I were refinishing our first home, and it’s very difficult for both parents and child. I felt myself inadvertently revert to guest mode, and my mom tried to treat us like guests. The hubby and I were supporting members of the household, even if it was only for three months; both Mom and I should have adopted a household mentality rather than guest mentality.

    In any case, my point is that it’s essential to make new house rules for any adult child living with a parent. It will make everyone’s lives so much better!

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