Making room for your flock
It could be soaring home prices, a desire to build up a nest egg of their own, or just feeling comfortable still being taken care of by Mom and Dad, but for whatever reason, more and more adult children are opting to stay home longer – or returning after being out on their own for a while.
According U.S. Census data, for the first time in more than 130 years, 18- to 34-year-olds are more likely to live with their parents than with a spouse or partner.1
You may have a wonderful, loving relationship with your kids, but living together as adults can sometimes put extra emotional and financial stress on you and your partner. When they’re too old to ground, finding ways to work through the unavoidable ups and downs can seem challenging, but there are ways to make this stage of life work for everyone.
If you find yourself sharing your home with your adult flock, consider these tips to help make the nest as happy and as peaceful as it can be.
- Set boundaries. The last thing you want is to have a strained relationship with your children because you haven’t told them what you expect of them and they’re not figuring it out on their own. If you want them to pay rent or pitch in by taking over household chores – or both – have that discussion as soon as possible. Talk about house rules (it is your house, after all) including after hours noise, company, and cleanliness, and make sure everyone is on the same page so there are no surprises later.
- Respect your differences. They are your children and they need to follow certain rules while they’re living under your roof, but they are also adults. Respect their need for privacy and try to let them live as independently as possible. Try not to be too hands-on – step back and let them live their lives without your unsolicited advice as much as possible.
- Create space. Even if you have a large home, it can still feel small with multiple adults living in it. Make sure you carve out time and space to be alone, or to spend time alone with your partner. That might mean leaving your home for a weekly date night, going out for dinner with friends, or taking a long walk each evening – whatever gives you the time and space you need.
- Take care of yourself. Your children are now adults and they can do a lot more for themselves than they used to. Let them. It’s easy to fall back into old roles and patterns, but you don’t have to be the mom or dad in the same way you were when they were little. Overextending yourself isn’t good for anyone, so make sure you take good care of yourself.
- Have the hard conversations. At some point your child really does need to leave the nest. Be clear from the start that this living arrangement is only temporary because you want to see them make a go of it on their own. Letting them stay under your roof indefinitely keeps them living and acting like children for much longer than they should. Be gentle when you ask the hard questions. Instead of demanding to know when they’re going to get a job, ask if they’ve made a plan for employment and how it’s going. Ask them to consider creating a plan if they haven’t, then agree to meet in a few days to talk about it in case they need your advice or wisdom.
- Don’t make it too easy. Imagine living somewhere where dinner magically appears on the table every night, your laundry is done for you, someone else cleans up after you, and you don’t have to pay for a thing. Who wouldn’t want to stay there forever? You don’t have to make your child’s life miserable, but make them responsible for taking care of themselves. You are providing a roof (and your love), but they really are capable of providing pretty much everything else themselves.
One of the most important things to watch out for is that you aren’t jeopardizing your retirement by financially supporting your adult children.
A recent Canadian poll showed that baby boomers are struggling to financially support adult kids, including subsidizing large purchases, allowing them to live rent-free, and helping them to pay off credit card debt.2 It’s not selfish to think of your own financial future and to plan accordingly.
If you’re concerned about your financial situation, remember that as a Foresters member you have access to Everyday Money, our toll-free financial helpline that connects you to an accredited counselor who can help answer your questions about your personal financial matters such as debt management and budgeting.
Your nest may be full of adult children, but it can still be a peaceful, albeit temporary, situation if you keep the lines of communication open, and be clear about your needs and what you expect from those not-so-little baby birds.
415240D CAN/US (06/17)