Empty-Nesters No More! (Click here to download a free PDF copy of this blog)
The holidays are a great time to catch up with family and friends. This year one thing that came to my attention was the increasing number of friends whose adult children had moved back home. Not one, two, three or four, but five now have millennials living with them at home. They thought they were empty-nesters BUT NO! To my surprise, adult children coming back home to live is becoming a very common living arrangement.
Millennials Returning Home to Live in Record Numbers
According to a recent Pew Research Center analysis of census data, "living with a parent is the most common young adult living arrangement for the first time on record.” Male millennials are more likely to live at home with parents (35%) compared to females, but females are close behind (29%) and if trends continue will catch up. The report finds that “for the first time in modern era, living with parents edges out other living arrangements for 18- to 34-year-olds.”
Why is this becoming more common? The report suggest the following:
1. Postponment of Marriage. Millennials are waiting much longer to get married.
2. Employment Status. Employed millennials are less likely to live at home with parents.
3. Falling Wages. When wages go down, more mellineals head home to live.
4. Level of Education. Fewer millennials with a college degree live at home.
5. The Great Recession and Modest Recovery. Unemployment and stagnant wages.
I would also add to the list:
6. Greater Social Acceptance of and Lower Stigma towards living with parents.
The Confluence of Overindulgence and the Failure to Launch
One pitfall for parents when adult children come home to live is overindulgence, especially overnurture and soft structure. This reminds me of the movie “Failure to Launch” in which Kathy Bates and Terry Bradshaw, parents of a their thirty someting young adult (Matthew McConaughey) hire an interventionist to help them get him out of the house. Mom and dad make it way too easy for their son by doing his laundry, cleaning his room (overnurture) and not having a clear set of rules to follow (soft structure). It is very easy for both parent and child to slip into old roles, parent-child roles that have evolved over time but may be outdated. You are still parent, but now your child is an adult and many of the old roles don’t work and as a result conflict happens! One solution is to sit down with your adult child and write a contract.
A Contract is What You Need
Rent, food, chores, alcohol, pets, and romantic relationships are only a few of the hotspot issues that can spark conflict between parents and an adult child returning home to live. Parents and children simply make assumptions about each other. Frequently they fail to raise these issues until conflict arises, and when it does habitually both parent and child fall back on old roles that don’t work. This situation calls for new roles for both parties. They need to negotiate a new set of rules for living with each other. Spell them out. Write them down on paper. Agree and sign them! When parents do this, it is out there in black and white for everyone to see. Clear expectations and boundaries.
Contracts For Young Adults Living At Home
There are numerous helpful resources for writing contracts at your fingertipps on the internet. Whichever one you use, they all have some common elements such as; (1) names, (2) dates of the contract, (3) rules about paying rent, chores such as laundry, cooking, cleaning, (3) having guests over and quite hours, (4) use of alcohol and tobacco, (5) and consequences if the contract is not being followed. One useful resource you should read before writing your first parent/child contract is “What To Do When An Adult Child Moves Back Home, Or Has Never Left” by the online parenting coach.
Examples of Parent/Child Contracts
1. Parent/child contract for an adult child living at home from Printablecontracts.com.
2. Free printables for parents with an adult child at home from boomerangkidshelp.com.
3. Child Moving Back Home Contract from Printablecontracts.com.
A Difficult Task
Many parents find that writing a contract with their adult child can be a very challenging because many parents are use to being a caretaker, making sure that their children are always happy, and doing things for their children that they should be doing for themselves. If the task is too daunting I recommend hiring a parent coach.
What Is a Parent Coach?
"A parent coach is a highly-trained and knowledgeable professional whose primary role is to support and gently guide parents and caregivers as they deal with the challenges of raising healthy, happy, and successful children.”
There is more help about avoiding overindulgence in How Much is Too Much? Raising Likeable, Responsible, Respectful Children – From Toddlers To Teens – In An Age of Overindulgence (2014, DaCapo Press Lifelong Books).
Photos from MorgueFile free photo, Video from YouTube