“Alone at last!” you and your spouse exclaimed when the last of your kids flew the coop to take on such formerly alien concepts as rent, utility bills, and car payments. But wait. Who’s that familiar face coming up the walk with suitcases in hand? It’s your grown progeny!
These days, many so-called “empty nesters” find themselves with at least one grown child living at home. Some pundits refer to these adult children as the “boomerang” generation. Whatever you label them, they’re returning home in record numbers. Some come back hoping to save money for school. Others return so they can take time to search for the perfect job. Still others may have personal problems and need a refuge.
If you and your spouse find yourselves hosting kids you thought were launched, there are practical steps you and your child can take to minimize conflict and maximize the opportunity to strengthen family bonds. Before any move-in takes place, have a family powwow to discuss mutual expectations and establish house rules. Do this as early as possible to help prevent misunderstandings and friction later on.
If you don’t approve of overnight guests, blaring stereos, bad language, questionable religious practices, the use of drugs or alcohol, etc., then make sure those expectations are clear before your son or daughter moves back in. Depending on the child and the circumstances, you might want to draft a brief “contract,” naming the conditions that must be met in order for them to live under your roof. Have your son or daughter indicate by signature that they agree to your terms. Inform them (lovingly) that if the rules are broken, eviction may follow.
Generally speaking, most kids are just looking for a temporary retreat while figuring out their next step. If you want to maintain a healthy relationship with your adult child, consider these tips:
- Trust your adult children to make wise choices.
- Squelch the impulse to give advice unless it’s asked for.
- Communication is key.
- Practice grace.
We all need a refuge from time to time in our lives. Your kids should know that home is a safe, accepting place to land when they need to regroup. Be thankful that your kids like you enough to want to come home. Your dream of an empty nest can wait a bit longer. Besides, you may actually enjoy this chance to relate to your children as grownups – just like you.
About the Author
Roberta Rand Caponey writes for Focus on the Family.