Your Adult Child Moving Back In

Posted by on in Life Transitions

As a parent, you undoubtedly want what is best for you children. But sometimes it can be difficult to help them, especially if their goals are at odds with your own, or if your child or children do not welcome your advice or assistance. And even when you are all on the same page, things can be tough. Occasionally, what is best for your adult kids is providing them with a place to stay while they are trying to figure out the next step in their lives.

As you may know, the transition period right after college can be extremely difficult for a young adult. You may be the perfect person to understand the obstacles they are facing, and you may be just the person to help them through this time. Finding a job can be difficult for anyone, but as a recent graduate, your kid is going to have a difficult time finding their first job after college. One of the best things you could possibly do for them is to allow them to move back home.

Grown Children Living at Home

You have no doubt supported your child through years of education and other activities, but now your child has just graduated from college, and is facing new challenges. Your role will change slightly. Having an adult child at home could potentially be a burden on you and the rest of your family. But it is also hard on the child moving back home. In order to make the process go smoothly, here are a few tips.

  • Communicate: The first thing you need to do with your adult child is to communicate with them. Share your expectations with your child and listen to their expectations about moving home. Even before your child moves back, you should discuss these expectations. Continue to communicate during the period your child is home so that any disagreements or irritations are addressed. In this way, you are all learning to communicate better, and this will ultimately set your child up for success as good communication skills are prized in the workplace and in personal relationships.

  • Cooperate: In this situation, cooperation does not just refer to your child adhering to whatever rules you place on them, but, rather, it refers to the relationship that you are going to have to build with your child. No matter how great a relationship you have had in the past, you need to know that that relationship is going to be different now. Everyone involved in this move is going to have to learn how to cooperate with each other and get along as adults, which means that your child is going to expect more from you, and you are going to expect your child to take on more responsibility. Cooperation is a two way street that involves everyone respecting each other and helping each other out as much as possible. This goes hand-in-hand with communicating your needs and expectations.

  • Set Limitations: Think of this as setting ground rules. Your adult child needs to know what this situation is going to be like. Are you going to charge them rent? Are you going to ask them to chip in to pay for utilities? Are they only allowed to consume so much of your food? Will you assign them certain chores or errands? Limitations should not make it seem like you are trying to be a tyrant, but rather that you are setting boundaries for what they can and cannot do. You need to keep in mind that even though they are moving home, and they are your child, you still expect them to behave like an adult. This means there should be limits on what you provide for them and which responsibilities you expect them to take on.

Making the Transition

As parents living with adult children, expect a transition period while everyone gets used to the new dynamic. It helps to know and understand that before they actually move home. Knowing what to expect from the process before it begins will help you cope with the changes as they are happening. Here are some tips on making the transition going smoothly.

  • Provide help to your child, but do not smother them. As a parent, your first instinct when your child is in need will be to help them out in any way possible. But this can sometimes leave your child feeling a little overwhelmed. You need to understand that you have already done a lot for them by allowing them to move back home. After that, you need to make sure they know and understand that you are there for them, but you are not there to fix everything.

  • Offer solutions to their problems instead of trying to solve their problems for them. This one may be a little trickier for some parents than others. Remember that while you are indeed still a parent, your child has lived for four years independently and is entering adulthood. Allow him or her to come to you for help and advice; do not try to intervene and solve problems. For instance, if they are having a difficult time finding a job, offer to proofread their résumé and cover letter or to arrange a practice interview. Do not apply to jobs for your adult child. When you solve your child’s problems instead of allowing him or her to do this, you are only hurting your child and hindering what he or she can do. Let your child figure things out.

  • Be clear on what you expect from your child as an adult. Keep in mind that you are the one allowing them to move home, but you also need to remember that this does not give you extreme authority; your child is still an adult. Yes, you are doing something to help, but the entire process will be more difficult if you hold it over your child’s head. Lay out what you expect of them when they move home, and allow them to voice their opinions and what they expect of you. Keep in mind that they are an adult now, and as an adult they will expect more than what you might be used to giving them.

  • Understand that your adult child is going to want more freedom. This piece of advice goes right along with your expectations, but it cannot be said enough: your child is now an adult, and it can be unpleasant if you do not treat him or her like one.

Avoiding Stress

When your child moves back home, there is likely going to be stress involved. Both you and your child are going to be stressed at different times and by different things, whether it is the actual move or the transition into the new living arrangements. After all, you have grown accustomed to living without your child in your home, and now you must grow accustomed to your child living in your home again. Here are a few ways to help eliminate that stress.

  • Know the Timeline: One way to deal with the stress that comes with your child moving back home is to know how long he or she plans to live with you. While it is technically unpredictable, try setting goals for your child to find a job and move out. Creating a timeline will motivate your child, and you can plan for their leave-taking.

  • Help with Finances: This does not mean you should start giving your child a weekly allowance again. Rather, it means you should offer financial advice and help your child make a monthly budget. You need to place emphasis on how you expect him or her to spend money, which means setting boundaries. After all, if your adult child has the money to go on a vacation or purchase something costly, he or she likely has enough money to rent an apartment.

  • Respect Independence: In order to avoid stepping on your child’s toes, learn to respect his or her new independence. As an adult, your child has grown accustomed to a certain level of independence and will not want to give that up when moving home. You may not always agree with the choices your son or daughter makes, but you should do your best to respect that he or she has made those choices.

  • Avoid Old Roles: When your child moves back home, it is easy to slip back into roles that have you, as parents, dictating chores and timelines, and have your child following orders. While it is important to set certain expectations and ground rules, as discussed above, reverting to old roles may not be the best way to handle the situation. Since your child went away to school, he or she has grown and changed, and so have you. Your relationship has also developed. You need to embrace that new relationship, and the way you interact should reflect that change.


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