NEW YORK (
) -- Once parents send their kids off into the real world after high school and college, mom and dad are supposed to get the house to themselves and plenty of money to enjoy their newfound freedom.
But who knew the house had a revolving door and that many of those kids would come back home -- seemingly for good?
last year from the Pew Research Center says that 29% of U.S. adults between 25-34 have come back to live at home since the onset of the Great Recession -- and 48% of unemployed adult children between 18 and 34.
It's a cultural shift that predates the recession. Since 1980, the rate of young adults returning to the homestead has "risen steadily," Pew
While this isn't ideal for most millennials, it's an adjustment for parents as well, says Colleen O'Brien, a branch manager at
who follows the issue of boomerang kids.
"The reason households have multi-generational members is very simply the inability to get employment," she says. "Good workers are sitting on the sidelines, and that forces them back home, sometimes with their parents. I don't believe millennials want this lifestyle any more than their aging parents do."
To make sure everyone's on the same page in such an arrangement, O'Brien advises laying down some ground rules for the whole family to follow.
"Rules are critical to help these family members stay motivated and positive," she says. "In an effort not to revert back to childhood, everyone needs to sit down and have an 'expectations' meeting. It's important for both the parents and the returnee to help establish an environment in which both feel understood and that expectations can be met."
O'Brien also advises parents to set a timeline and goal for moving out -- "this allows everyone to stay focused and ultimately help them gain their full independence."
"Don't be shy about asking them to make a contribution to the household -- monetarily or in labor," she adds. "Cook, clean and shop" should all be on the table.
As your child looks for a job, be supportive and check in; you might be able to help them make decision on next steps and on who to contact for an opportunity, considering the things you have learned over the years, O'Brien says. "But make it clear that adult children need to be making a great effort to find some sort of employment, not just searching the web. Outside appointments and getting some part-time work, likely outside of their desired job, might be necessary."
O'Brien's three primary steps parents should take to minimize problems:
- Set expectations upfront. So there's no confusion later, be sure to discuss personal space, meals, having friends over, curfews and sharing chores. This is also a good time to set a goal move-out date.
- Be frank about money. Having a child move back home will raise household expenses, so be clear about how your son or daughter needs to contribute. Rent, groceries, transportation and entertainment are all expenses to consider.
- Encourage independence. Your adult child is likely moving back home due to financial circumstances, but think twice about coddling them too much. Helping pay off debt, lending your credit card or co-signing for major purchases will only delay their financial independence. Instead, talk about making a budget, setting goals and saving consistently -- even if it's only a little at a time.
Above all, communication between parents and adult children is critical. A boomerang situation can actually work out well as long as the air is cleared and both parties know what's expected from them -- and deliver on those expectations.