Children's Toys

Boomerang Kids

Tracey Columns

Dear Tracey,

I know you’ve addressed my problem before but I didn’t pay attention at the time, never imagining I’d be in this boat. I hope you don’t mind reviewing what we should keep in mind when our “Boomerang” child moves back home this summer.

Not Ready

Dear Reader,

Sounds like you’re not thrilled with this development but my hunch is, neither is your child.

Here’s the column you are referring to. Hope it helps.

How many times have I had the following scenario described to me? Just when the empty nest is arranged exactly the way the parents like it, the phone call comes: “Hey Mom, how’d you like it if I moved home for a little while? Sounds great, right?” Well, maybe. But then again, maybe not.

The number of adult children moving back into their parent’s home is epidemic. It’s so common, the phenomenon even has a name, Boomerang Kids. Census figures reveal that 43 percent of women and 56 percent of men between the ages of 18 and 24, currently live with one or both parents. What’s even more startling is that approximately 65 percent of recent college graduates have moved back home with their parents.

Some come home because of illness, a divorce, or another, unfortunate personal reason. Financial concerns resulting from debt and joblessness are often the most common reasons a child is forced to return home. While for others, the lifestyle their parents offer is far more comfortable than the one these young adults can afford on their own.

Don’t get me wrong – this can be a great arrangement for everyone involved. But if you want to ensure success for your family, consider the following guidelines:

  * Before your child spends one night under your roof, establish a departure date. Sorry if this sounds cold – reality sometimes feels that way.  In the long run, everyone  benefits from agreeing to this date. It gives your child a deadline to work towards and it helps you keep your perspective during those times when you wonder why you ever agreed to this arrangement in the first place.

*Establish house rules. No one in the family wants to return to the rules you had when your child  was a teenager living under your roof. But the fact remains, it’s still your house. Therefore, it is understandable that you have requirements and expectations regarding cohabitation. Discuss each of them thoroughly, decide what all of you can live with, and write down the finalized agreement.

* Insist that your child participate in the finances of the household.   It’s worth noting that paying rent has been shown to be one of the most important elements for success in these living arrangements. Ask your child what he/she feels is reasonable and then negotiate. If your child is home because of poor finances, insist he/she  work off rent by doing significant household chores, such as a thorough weekly housecleaning, cooking dinner a couple nights a week, or yard work. (These jobs are not to be confused with the obvious daily contributions your child will be expected to make, such as doing his/her only laundry and keeping the bedroom they are using tidy.) Be aware that when these contributions are not clearly defined and understood by everyone, it is very easy to revert to old habits. And that’s when things can quickly go south!

* Agree that everyone practices common courtesy and respect. Discuss how differences will be approached and managed. Remember, this is not about parents nagging kids about chores, any more than it is about kids ignoring their parent’s rules. What it is about is adults sharing a common living space.

* If your child has returned home because of difficulty with finances,  do not bail them out! It’s time for your offspring to learn the consequences of behavior and choices. Sit down together and determine how they can restructure their debt. The first step? Have them agree to put away their credit cards and live within their means. Be forewarned – this can be a tough one.  It’s quite natural for children to think their parents will “be there” for them, no matter what. But in this instance, the best way you can be a good parent is to set limits on what you will do and then, sit tight!

I hope these guidelines prove helpful to those of you living with your  own Boomerang Kids! And check back because I’ve just begun reading “Slouching Toward Adulthood, Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest” by Sally Koslow. So far, she has ALL of my attention!

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