The Boomerang Generation: When Kids Return Home

More and more twenty-somethings (and even thirty-somethings) are moving back in with Mom and Dad. Between the high cost of college, the rough economy and the lack of jobs many young people cannot support themselves on their own. Experts are now calling this the boomerang generation: they leave home, make their way through college, a backpacking trip around the world, their first two (or three) jobs and then end up right back in their childhood bedroom. While not abnormal in today’s climate, the boomerang effect can significantly influence parents, young adults and their relationship.

Here are the issues that arise when kids move home and how to deal:

1) Freedom

Both former empty-nesters and twenty-somethings list lack of freedom as their top concern when thinking about moving home. For parents who were used to an empty house and an extra bedroom for storage, guests and gym equipment, having their child back at home can really crimp their style. Kids also expect to be able to maintain their adult lifestyle even when they move back into their childhood home. Both sides need to get very clear right from the beginning on what kinds of boundaries are going to be set-up. Adult kids are far too old for a curfew, but might need to return home at a decent hour so as not to wake sleeping parents. Loud music, and having friends over are other areas parents and kids need to discuss.

2) Privacy

My adult friends who still live at home or who have recently moved home (as well as my own stints back in my mom’s house when she kindly lets me stay in between travels) are frequently reminded of the privacy issues that arise when they are home. Be sure to talk to your parents about overnight guests, eating habits and nosiness. One friend complained to me that he went for years in college living off of pizza and hot dogs, but now that he is home his mom constantly nags him about getting vegetables. “I don’t know if the free rent is worth it,” he lamented.

3) Chores and Favors

Is mom still going to do laundry? Do kids still have to take out the trash? Is Dad going to cover the groceries and grill enough for three during dinner? These are all issues that are different for every family. Make sure to not go in with any un-discussed expectations. Talk to your parents/kids about what is free in the house (rent, utilities, etc) and what might not be (food, car, etc). You also should discuss what ‘chores’ still need to be done. Adult kids should be able to take on more responsibility—whether that is financial and paying partial rent or through deeds of cleaning the attic, raking the yard or fixing the computers.

Most of all, this is a process. There is no one way for kids to return home and integrate back into the family home. Parents need to make sure they are keeping their boundaries and needs and kids moving home need to keep their privacy and freedom in check.

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