This month, college graduates across the U.S. will throw their mortarboards up in the air, pack up their dorm rooms … and move back into their childhood bedrooms. Thanks to a poor economy and high unemployment rates, more and more young adults are moving back home with their parents after college. In fact, 85 percent of college seniors planned to do just that after graduation last May, according to a poll by marketing and research firm Twentysomething Inc. Sociologists refer to these young adults as “Boomerang Kids.” And while the situation can be ripe for conflict between parents and their grown children, there are steps you can take to make the situation a positive one for all.
1. Discuss the reasons for the move-in
Talk with your child about why he has decided to move back home. Is he hoping to find a job and establish a career before getting his own apartment? Does he want to save money by living at home while going to graduate school? Identifying his goals for the arrangement will help him stay focused on gaining independence and ultimately moving out, rather than getting too comfortable at Mom and Dad’s house.
2. Set clear expectations
Sit down as a family before the move-in and discuss exactly what each of you expects. Talk about which household chores you’d like your young adult to take on, how often she can have friends over, etc. Identify potential trouble spots and try to come up with compromises.
3. Set a time limit
Agree on a time limit for how long your child will live in your house. If everyone is on the same page, you can avoid resentment that stems from differing assumptions. You can always adjust the deadline later if necessary.
4. Establish rules
These may include no smoking or drinking in the house, no boyfriends or girlfriends spending the evening, etc.
5. Charge rent
Write up a “rental agreement” for both you and your child. Have him pay a certain amount of rent or earn his room and board in some other way. This will prepare him for living independently. It’s also a good idea to include requirements that might help your child move towards independence, such as that he will apply for five jobs each week.
6. Respect each other
If both you and your child keep your promises and respect one another, you can maintain peace in your household. If someone is not keeping up their end of the bargain, have a family meeting to re-establish boundaries.
7. Stay positive
Some young adults may feel that moving back home is a sign of failure, while parents may miss their privacy and freedom. But everyone should see the arrangement as an opportunity to get to know each other better, develop closer relationships, and to serve as a stepping stone in the young adult’s path to success.