When Children Move Back Home

It is common for parents to have difficulty adjusting to the “empty nest” when the last child has left home. Many families now face a second adjustment: when adult children return home to live. And in some households, the adult children have not yet moved out.

Some parents take the “empty nest” in stride, enjoying the peace and quiet that comes when the children are gone. Other parents have more difficulty, finding the home too empty and lonely. So it’s not surprising that parents’ reactions to their children’s return can range from delight and relief to disappointment and dread. Wherever you are in the adjustment process, here are a few points to keep in mind:

  • If you want the arrangement to be temporary, explain this clearly. If you don’t discuss it, your children may assume they can stay as long as they want.
  • If there are grandchildren coming, discuss who will be providing the babysitting and discipline.
  • Respect your children’s independence, rather than protecting or rescuing them. Even if your children make mistakes, you don’t have to take over.
  • Expect them to pay their way and share household tasks. While it may seem strange to charge rent to a family member, realize that you are helping them develop essential budgeting skills. (And their food, phone, and electricity use does cost you money!)
  • What would you be doing with your time if the children weren’t there? Try to stick with these plans and goals to keep everyone moving forward.
  • Keep communication open, and keep your sense of humor!