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When an Adult Child Moves Home: How to Make It Work

It was difficult when your little one first flew the nest, but over time, you got used to having your personal space back. Plus, you have to admit, it felt nice to turn their old bedroom into the art studio you’ve always wanted.

So, what do you do when your adult child needs to become one of the 15% of 25- to 35-year-olds living at home? Research shows that a range of factors could contribute to the rise in multi-generational households, such as cultural differences, the remaining effects of the recession including change in attitudes around spending, or even an ongoing increase in life expectancy.

We spoke with Yazhini Srivathsal, MD, attending psychiatrist at Banner Behavioral Health Hospital, about these “boomerang children” and how to adjust to your new (old) arrangement.

First, and most importantly, understand that you have every right to say no to their request to move back home.

“You don't have to feel guilty for saying no,” Dr. Srivathsal said. “After all, this is your home and you need to do what is right for you.”

You don’t have to be okay with this arrangement, but if you make the choice to let your child move home, Dr. Srivathsal recommended keeping the following tips in mind to help make the transition as easy as possible.

Set Clear Ground Rules

Before you child moves back in, sit down for a direct conversation on the expectations you both have for the new living arrangement. Items to cover can include:

  • What is their expected timeline? Weeks, months, years?
  • What will they contribute around the house? Rent, groceries, household expenses, and/or chores?
  • What are the rules around having their friends/ visitors over?

Discuss the reasons they are moving in and the steps that need to be accomplished before they can move out. The rules for your adult child will likely be completely different this time around. Make sure you are realistic about the current situation and what it means for both of you.

Acknowledge That Things Will Be Different

Treat this as a fresh start. Remember that you don’t have to slip back into old roles just because you’re living together once again. Living with a grown adult, especially an adult who has lived on their own for some time, should be completely different from living with a teenager. Respect your child’s boundaries and preferences, like you would any roommate, but don’t enable them to avoid adult responsibilities all together.

Understand What This Means for Your Family

“You did not fail as a parent just because your child moved back in,” Dr. Srivathsal said. “It might help to have a conversation about this with your child, as they might be thinking that they are a failure because they had to move home.”

Make sure you both continue to live your separate lives even if you’re now under one roof. Stay active and keep up with your hobbies. Taking time for yourself, maintaining friendships and keeping up with your social circle will all help make the transition easier for both you and your child.

Things could be rocky at first, so plan for an adjustment period as you both feel out what it’s like to live together again.

“But, this could bring your family even closer,” Dr. Srivathsal encouraged. “One day, when you’re older and the tables are turned, this experience could positively influence your future relationship with your children.”

Knowing how to interact day-to-day with your adult child can be confusing for many parents. Connect with a Banner physician to get advice and help with your new living arrangement.

Paternidad Salud mental
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