NEW YORK (
) -- Are you ready to have your adult children living at home with you? Like it or not, it's a distinct possibility. So you need to make some rules and plans for this homecoming to work.
According to a Pew Research Center
done recently, almost a third of adult children's parents in the United States are seeing their offspring move back home.
With one child living overseas and another away at college, I can tell you that it would be a dream come true to have my kids back home -- for me. But I know that my children, like yours, strive to be independent. Living at home is not my kids' first choice, and the same is probably true about your children.
They move back home because it's difficult to
land a job
these days. Plus, wages are low and the cost of living is high. What is the best way to make this situation work for everyone involved?
1. Ground rules
Rather than imposing rules on your children, treat them as the adults they are. Bring up topics that are important to you and ask them what issues they want to raise. Here is a partial list of important agenda items:
How long will the children be at home?
What contributions do you expect of them? Rent, chores, shopping?
What contributions do they expect of you? What are you going to pay for on your child's behalf? Are you going to provide food and shelter only or is cable TV, clubbing costs and car insurance included, as well? Make sure that both you and your kids are clear on this.
What is their plan for becoming independent again? Will they go back to school?
Change their career
? Save enough to buy a home? In short, what is the reason for the move and what are they doing to improve their own situation?
Who does the cooking and cleaning?
Do you have any restrictions on having your child's guests?
To make sure there are no misunderstandings down the road, I strongly suggest that you have a written agreement that both you and your children sign, spelling out these rules.
2. The costs
Don't make your kids feel guilty, but let them know what you are giving up (if anything) by this new living arrangement. Do the added food costs make it harder to reach your own financial goals? Do you have to give up your free time to shuttle them around or watch your grandchildren? Be honest about it. If you try to pretend there isn't any problem with the new situation, you might build up resentment that bubbles up at the wrong time.
3. Monthly meetings
Situations rarely unfold as planned. The reality of your children moving back in is going to be far different from how you imagine it.
The kids may develop grievances and so might you. Allow for a specific day and time each month to discuss how things are going. Ask your children what they like about the situation, and what they wish were different. Then, share your own feelings and ask for a commitment to make appropriate changes.
4. Help your kids
You might be doing your kids a huge favor by opening up your doors to them again. But if you really want to help them, explore the needed steps for them to be independent.
Is your son moving back because he lost his job? OK. Is he in the right profession or does he have to go back to school to prepare for a better career? Should he start looking at
jobs that don't require a college degree
Is he sleeping later and later every day, rather than looking for employment? The best way to help him: Insist he pay rent and set a firm move-out date.
As you can see, you must handle each situation on a case-by-case basis.
It could be wonderful to have your children living with you again -- and it should be. That's why you must get clear on expectations and mutual ground rules, and for both you and your children to be willing to adapt as problems arise.
--By Neal Frankle, founder of Wealth Resources Group in Agoura Hill, Calif. for
For Frankle's blog
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