Job loss, divorce, schooling—all are reasons an adult child may return home, sometimes bringing a family with them. What do you, as parents, do?
Of course you want to help your children, but you wonder how to make it work. While you want to offer love and support, you don’t want to foster unhealthy dependency.
Below are some suggestions for making the best of the situation. Circumstances can vary widely, so the following list is not intended to be exhaustive or to apply to every situation.
1. Make expectations and rules clear at the beginning. Will the single daughter who has been away at college for the last four years be expected to call if she’s going to be late from a date? What of the son who has no car? Will he be allowed to use the family vehicle? The rules may change according to the age of the child, family resources, and other circumstances. Some parents make up a written agreement, spelling out the expectations on both parts.
2. Address financial matters up front. Will the adult child pay rent? How much? How will the cost of food be handled? What about utilities? Some families handle the matter by having the parents buy the food and the child pay the utilities. Decide what works for you.
3. Decide how grandchildren will be handled. Will you, the grandparents, be expected to babysit? If so, will you receive monetary compensation? Grandparents often welcome the opportunity to spend more time with their grandchildren but may not wish to become full-time babysitters. Jobs, other obligations, and health issues may prevent that arrangement.
4. Establish a time frame. Come to an agreement with your child on how many months (or years) he or she will be living at home.
5. Respect each other’s privacy. Everyone needs and deserves privacy, including the parents of returning children. Decide if certain areas of the house are off-limits. Establish limits of conduct, content, and behavior in your home.