When raising kids, you expect to eventually have an empty nest. Your kids will leave for college, get jobs, find their own homes, and maybe start their own families. Parents often approach this phase with a mix of dread and excitement. You'll miss your children but will also have an opportunity to travel, downsize, and have less day-to-day parenting responsibilities. But what do you do when you’re ready to be an empty nester, and you find that your home is not-so-empty?
1. Set Ground Rules
Although your kids are now adults, they are still living in your home. You have a right to set the rules that make you comfortable with the situation. This might mean restrictions on overnight guests, alcohol in the house, or the use of shared computers, televisions, or telephones. It can also mean requesting regular help around the house or payment for expenses. If your kids want more freedom, that will be incentive for them to find their own homes.
2. Set Expectations for Rent and Expense Sharing
When your adult kids move in with you, it’s often because they are out of work or not making enough money to live on their own. Even though they are building their own savings, it’s generally a good idea for adult kids to contribute as much as they can to the household expenses. This is especially important when you are approaching retirement and need to be aware of your own financial future.
3. Foster a New Adult Relationship
Though adult kids still need their parents’ support, you don’t want to slip back into your earlier roles. When kids are young, they depend on their parents for everything, but good parenting involves helping kids eventually support themselves. Don’t let moving back home undermine your adult kids’ sense of independence. If you want your kids to be responsible adults, you have to treat them that way. That means not doing their laundry or otherwise babying them while they are in your home.
4. Help Design a Move-Out Plan
Whether adult kids are moving back home or have never left, be clear that their time living with you is short-term. It’s best to set a move-out plan from the beginning. Make sure to have clear goals which will help your kids find jobs, build their savings, and ultimately find their own homes. Once the plan is set, agree to check in on their progress regularly and make modifications as needed.
5. Make the Job Search a Full-Time Job
It will be difficult for adult kids to move out on their own until they find stable jobs. Finding a well-paying job can be a challenge, however, especially given the current economic climate. To help adult kids find their way out of the nest, make sure they understand that searching for a job is a full-time job. In addition to posting resumes online, they should be applying for jobs, talking to headhunters or temp agencies, and looking into additional training or certifications.
6. Encourage Confidence and Push When Needed
Instead of letting adult kids become overly reliant on you, make an effort to build their confidence. Adult kids are often demoralized when they have to move back home with their parents, especially when the move comes after losing a job or ending a relationship. Help your kids rebuild their confidence by encouraging them to stay active. If they are having trouble finding a job, they can still take on volunteer work or projects around the house. It may take some pushing and a little “tough love,” but your kids will eventually be grateful to know that you believe they are capable of succeeding.