How to cope when an adult child moves back home

In the UK over 3million adults have moved back in with their parents. The so-called ‘boomerang generation’ have to move back for a number of reasons. Here’s how to cope as a parent.

Let them know your expectations before moving day

Whether they're returning due to money troubles, a breakup, redundancy or personal problems, it’s important to establish clear boundaries when your adult child moves back home.

They may be all grown up now, but that doesn’t mean they can move into your home and without any ground rules. Things you may need to consider are:

  • Housework. Who is responsible for the communal spaces? You may want to consider implementing a cleaning rota
  • Noise levels. Music, television, video games or general chatter can serve to be quite irritating when sharing a home—that works both ways!
  • Is your child in a relationship? If so, are you comfortable with their partner staying overnight?
  • If you have a partner, think about your own relationship too. The increased intimacy you may have developed since your children flew the nest may be at threat from them moving back in. Be sure to keep communication open about what you can do to keep your romantic fires aflame.


Timing is everything

Establishing a time frame is crucial. While you want to help your offspring, this set up can’t go on forever and it’s important to establish a clear start and end date.

You can be flexible, but firm. The goal should be to get them back on their feet, not to have them back home forever.

If your child’s behaviour becomes disruptive or worrying, don’t hesitate to point them towards professional help. As tempting as it might be to try and take on their problems yourself, beware establishing an unhealthily dependent relationship with your child.


Remember everyone involved is an adult

If you can bear it, don’t impose a curfew, do their laundry or clean their living space.

You need to respect one another. If they aren’t home when they told you they would be, they need to accept that you may worry. You should also accept that as an adult, these things may slip their mind from time to time.

Being too financially accommodating, though stemming from a place of love and protectiveness, can also facilitate a stagnant lifestyle.

Beware becoming an enabler by making your child’s new surroundings too comfortable. They still need their eyes on the prize­—moving back out!


When grandchildren are involved

In some cases, your child may bring their own children with them, or have them come to visit and stay. Ensure that your grandchildren know what is expected of them and who is in charge.

If you are living with them full time you may find your relationship with your grandchildren changes. You may need to discuss how to handle discipline, childcare and ground rules for noise, bed time and shared computers before welcoming them into your home. 


adult child at home


If possible, don’t dip into your savings

Be careful not to do anything to jeopardise your own financial future.

If your boomeranger has an income, charge them rent, or at the very least ask them to cover their costs, including bills and food.

If they aren’t in a position to chip in financially, they can more than easily help out with the household chores. They can and should be pulling their weight around the house.

Making sure they contribute will prevent your new lodger from taking the situation for granted, and becoming too comfortable.


Don’t compromise your lifestyle

Since your child first left home, you’ve probably evolved as a person. When they move back in it can be very easily to slip back into mum or dad mode and lose sight of your new identity.

Keep a grip on your own routine, and don’t sacrifice your own pursuits. Keep up your hobbies, social life and activities. They will prevent you from becoming resentful towards the situation, or worse, your child.


Enjoy your time together

Though the situation is clearly not ideal for anyone, try to make the most of the opportunity to reconnect with your child in this new stage of their life.

You may even find you develop a more adult, and trusting bond than you had before.