Are you one of the growing number of grandparents who still have adult children living in the family home? Are throwing your arms in the air, wishing you were (finally) an empty nester, or a grey nomad, rather than the parent of a boomerang kid?
It’s a growing social issue. In a recent interview with The Australian, Mark Wooden, a director of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia research project, which monitors the number of young adults living at home, said “the percentage is rising.”
“But most of that growth is in the period prior to the global financial crisis. There is surprisingly little increase after 2008.” And for people in their late 20s, the percentage living at home is falling. There are no figures for adults in their 30s.”
Why is it happening?
A common cause now for adult children to be still at home is the high cost of Australian home ownership. It’s harder and harder to save up a deposit, and children are using a ‘grace period’ to lessen expenses and increase savings. Or it could be due to the harsh economic climate, and unemployment. Or, another increasing social problem, the breakdown of a relationship or marriage.
Some of what appears in this article rings very true with me. After an interstate move, my wife, son, and I moved in for a time with my in-laws.
Having ‘the discussion’; guidelines and exit strategy
While adults moving back in with you might come from a positive set of circumstances, there is every chance that their moving in will come from trouble, as mentioned above. If so, they might have some anger about what happened, or the fact that they had to come back home to live with you.
Foremost, you really should consider your own needs first, and try not to get too ‘pulled in’ to their struggles, to not be too affected. Help, yes, but don’t simply be solving their neediness. It’s hard, particularly if they’ve been through a harrowing time. Perhaps it helps to think of things in this way: when your children were young, your role was to act as manager. Now that they’re adults, yours is more the role of a consultant.
It’s important at the beginning of their living back with you that you both have ‘The Talk’. ‘This is what I expect… “. Are there goals, or a plan for how and when they will move out? What are their plans to stand on their own two feet? Is there board to be paid? How will expenses be shared? Will they do all their own cooking, cleaning, washing, or at the very least help? What household chores can they be responsible for? All of these if discussed (calmly) in the beginning means that they can be returned to from time to time with less chance of conflict.
Just in case all of this might seem a little negative, there is a huge possible silver lining. The experience might help the bond with your your child, in a fresh way, over and above the love and care you both already had. And you will have helped strengthen your child’s independence and maturity, for them to become the adult you had always hoped them to be.
A happy ending
My family was with our in-laws for about a year. We went to great pains to look after ourselves, and to help with meals, and we kept the (crowded) place tidy. We looked around to buy our own house, and eventually were successful. It all came to a happy end, and we are all still just as close as ever.
It was a happy ending, and we are forever grateful.
Have you found yourself in the situation of having adult children come back to live with you… or have never left? Do you have any advice for the community? We’d love to hear your comments.