Your precious little one who recently graduated may have moved back home “temporarily” until they find a decent job or maybe they did so just to save money so they could pay down their student loan debt faster. Whatever the case may be, you now have an adult child living at home. If you haven’t had any issues yet, consider yourself lucky. Issues will arise so it is important that both parties, parents and children, have clear expectations on how to handle their new living arrangement.
Set Ground Rules
It’s important to remember that your child is an adult and has been living like an adult for the past four years. Now that he or she is back in the house, you as a parent have to recognize this. It’s not necessary to have a 10pm curfew any longer on your adult child. But at the same time, you need to set ground rules so that they aren’t stumbling in at 2am when you have to get up for work at 5am.
By setting ground rules that you both can agree on you are setting the stage for success. The key is again rules that you both can agree on. The relationship is not a dictatorship any longer, you need to be flexible in your rules as does your child.
In addition to setting ground rules, you both need to manage expectations. Nothing is more troublesome than an adult child that expects you to do their laundry or pick up after them. As soon as possible, sit down and lay down the expectations. They shouldn’t all revolve around household chores either. Topics like rent and the job search as well as a time frame for when they need to move out should be clearly communicated and discussed.
As time goes on, you may need to have conversations with each other, reminding everyone of the ground rules. Maybe your child has gotten lazy in his job search. You need to remind him that in six months, he agreed to move out. Hopefully this will spur him into action.
On the other hand, you may need to be more lenient with your child. Maybe they are doing everything they can to land a job and just haven’t had any luck. You may feel that you both want to extend the move out date a few more months. Remember, nothing is written in stone. Just make certain that both parties are meeting expectations before modifying deadlines.
Be Careful When Helping Out Financially
While it is OK to help out your child financially if they are having a tough time making ends meet, don’t simply bail them out all of the time. You need to break them of the idea of always having a safety net. When you constantly bail them out they will never learn the difference between needs and wants. They will always rely on you to support them. As the years go on, it will be harder and harder to break from this trend.
Think of it this way: if you are always there to bail them, who is going to bail them out when you are gone? What are they going to do then? They won’t magically be excellent with their finances. They will be exactly the same, just without you supporting them. This means loads of credit card debt and bad choices along with possible depression. You don’t want that for your kid, so the sooner you cut them loose the better.
Moving back home after college is becoming more and more common nowadays. I moved home after college myself. My parents and I didn’t talk about ground rules. This lead to some heated arguments at the time. These arguments could have easily been avoided had we sat down at the start and laid out the ground rules.
While we didn’t set ground rules, we did talk about how long I would be staying at home. Ironically, my Mom wanted me to stay longer than I did. I guess she just didn’t want to see her baby grow up.
Moving back home can be a positive experience. It helped me get used to the real world after college and helped me when I got depressed and got into credit card debt. (Not because they paid it off for me, but because I didn’t get deeper into debt because of other living expenses.)
In order to make the best of this time, both parents and children need to communicate their expectations as well as agreed upon ground rules. Doing so will limit stressful arguments and fights and will help both parties transition into the next phase of life.