The kids are grown and out on their own. You’ve turned their rooms into a sewing room, a computer room, and a guest room (your favorite), complete with lace curtains, satin bedspread, and glass nick-knacks on the dresser. The worn brown carpeting in your living room has been replaced with pastel blue, and quiet has become your cherished friend.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Perfection never lasts.
One day, your son calls and informs you that his computer programming job has been dissected into two pieces that have been assumed by two undergraduates at just above minimum wage. He’s been replaced by his student interns. You let him move back in – to keep his savings intact while he looks for another job. Good old Mom and Dad. No big deal, right? You give him the guest room.
A couple of months later, Junior is still collecting unemployment, eating your food, and living under your roof, when your married daughter calls from out of state. She is going through a divorce, and her soon-to-be ex has stopped paying child support because his job was phased out. The government will eventually garnish child support from his unemployment benefits, but this will take time and will be in an amount far less than his court-ordered child support payments. Times are tough all over. What are parents supposed to do? You invite them to stay at your house until their finances become more stable. Your daughter gets the sewing room; your two granddaughters get the computer room. The contents of the sewing and computer rooms have been relocated to the master bedroom.
A few months after that, your youngest child finishes his tour of duty in Afghanistan, decides not to re-enlist, and needs a place to stay after his release. Can he stay at your house for a little while until he finds a job and saves the money for his own apartment? This adult child camps out in the sun room for the winter.
When our adult children have financial hardships and move back home to get their bearings, it is important for parents to set rules. Otherwise, the kids are bound to stay forever, eating your food, using your washer and dryer, electricity, and everything else that you have worked so hard to obtain.
Here are some helpful rules:
1. As soon as your adult chickie leaves the nest, talk with your spouse and develop a plan, in the event Chicken Little boomerangs back to the coop. Review it yearly and whenever your adult child’s living or financial situation changes.
2. Set a time limit on your boomerang child’s stay in your home. Mark it on the calendar, and put it in writing.
3. Charge something for room and board, even if it us just $50.00 a month. It is nonproductive and inadvisable for a boomerang adult child to abdicate all of his or her financial obligations. Something needs to be set aside for you.
4. Before the move in-date, if possible, discuss the particulars with your boomerang child. What are they going to do about food? What about housekeeping, discipline problems with the grandchildren, use of the television, shower times, where to park, telephone privileges, and how to deal with their significant other, etc. If you don’t discuss these things before a boomerang chick (and their brood) move in, they will become negative issues later.
5. Help your boomerang kid to develop a financial plan of exit and monitor its progress.
6. Do not babysit for your boomerang child on a regular basis. You will end up resenting it.
7. Maintain a “united front” with your spouse on conflicts with your boomerang children. Argue in private.
8. Take time to do things alone with your spouse – away from adult children and grandchildren. It takes a lot of patience and effort to re-establish the marriage relationship after the children move out. If you are housing boomerang kids, take special care to protect and continue cultivating this special bond you have with your spouse.
* It Doesn’t Have to be Bad *
Although there is a negative connotation to the term “boomerang kids,” it doesn’t have to be a bad experience. You will be able to help your adult child at a time when he needs you the most, without losing your identity (or shirt) in the process. Preparing adequately beforehand is your road map to success.