When a Young Adult Returns to Live with Parents

The number of young adults in the United States who are living with a parent has increased significantly over the past couple of decades. In July 2022, half of adults ages 18 to 29 were living with one or both of their parents. While this was slightly lower than a recent peak in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, it’s still higher than the 44% who were living with their parents in 2010 or the 38% in 2000.

Reasons Young Adults Move Back Home

There are many reasons that have kept young adults living at home for longer than expected, and many of them are legitimate issues. Here are a few reasons young adults move back home:

  • The pandemic caused an economic downturn and also significantly delayed many young adult’s maturity and social development.
  • Many young adults have gotten themselves over their heads in debt, whether it’s student loans or credit cards.
  • Inflation and the high cost of living has made living alone almost impossible for individuals in entry-level work.
  • Rents have increased significantly, making housing unaffordable. Some young adults that move back home are focusing on saving up for a down payment to purchase a home.
  • In this economy, even college graduates are struggling to find jobs.
  • Some cultural traditions encourage multi-generational living.
  • Some young adults move back home to care for an ailing parent or help with another family obligation.
  • More of the young adult population is not getting married until much later in life, if at all, and it’s much easier to move in with your parents as a single person, than as a married couple.
  • Many young adults were never taught to take care of themselves. It has become more common for parents to try to “do everything” for their children, which has created a generation of students who don’t have the basic independent living skills and/or motivation to be on their own.

Guidelines for Young Adults Moving Back Home

Regardless of the reason, ground rules should be set before a young adult returns home. When discussing a child returning to live at home, everyone in the household should sit down for a family meeting and write down a contract. Conditions or rules for moving back in with parents might include:

  • contributing financially in some way to the household, such as paying a minimal rent or for some designated item such as groceries or the electric bill
  • having a job or actively searching for one
  • helping with the cooking and/or cleaning
  • having a set timeframe for moving out
  • laying expectations for staying out late, having friends over, or noise control

While parents might want to help their children out, it’s important that the child remain a contributing member of the household so that bitterness doesn’t creep in.

Ways to Prepare Teenagers to Move Out

If you are a parent of a high school student who doesn’t want them to come back to live under your roof as an adult, then the following tips will help you decrease the chances:

Teach Money Management. One of the best ways to ensure your teen’s future independence is to instill the skills of managing money. Giving your teen the opportunity to earn their own money, create a budget, and practice buying their own clothing and entertainment will help them to understand the concepts and learn from mistakes that are minor at this young age. You might even want to try giving your teen the opportunity to plan the next family vacation with a budget limit. The biggest reason teens move back home is due to financial problems, so teach them how to avoid those. For more information on teaching money management skills to your teen, read our previous blogs: Money Management for Teens and Common Money Mistakes Teens Make and How to Avoid Them.

Educate About Debt. So many young adults do not understand debt and how it impacts their finances. The media and “gotta have it now” culture in America encourages young people to ‘buy now and pay later.’ It can be a very appealing message to young people who don’t have the money to pay off the bills. Combat this culture by explaining the dangers of debt to your teen now. They should have a full understanding of what interest rates and credit scores are, how high interest rates can ruin their finances and the impact of a bad credit rating on their future. Since student loan debt is an issue pushing kids back home, be sure to read our previous blog that discusses this issue: Is College Worth the Money?

Guide Your Teen’s Future. Your teen needs your guidance as they consider their future. First of all, they need to know that you see them as a successful adult – your encouragement has a major impact on how they view their future. Second, you should help them brainstorm possible careers, research those careers (what education is needed, how much can they expect to earn, what is the demand for that role, etc.), and consider the pros and cons of each option. This will help them to make a wise decision. If you need more information on how to prepare your teen for a successful future, review our previous blogs: Talking About a Teen’s Future and Preparing Teens for the Workforce.

Allow Mistakes. Sometimes, we can be so eager for our children to succeed that we make a couple of common errors when raising our adolescent child: (1) we try to prevent our teen’s mistakes, or (2) we try to rescue them from the consequences when they make a mistake. Unfortunately, humans tend to learn better through making our own mistakes than any other way. Now is the time for teens to make mistakes – when the mistakes are small and under your roof versus making mistakes as an adult, when the consequences are bigger, and they have to handle it on their own. Read our previous blogs on this topic: Turning Mistakes Into Life Lessons and 5 Mistakes You SHOULD Let Your Teen Make.

Instill Problem-Solving Skills. One of the best indicators of a young adult’s success is their ability to problem solve. This is a critical skill important in every area of a person’s life and highly coveted by employers. Good problem-solving skills can help your child create strategies for handling conflict, finding housing, successfully budgeting, and maintaining employment. To learn how to teach this valuable skill, read our previous blog: Teaching Problem-Solving Skills.

Teach Life Skills. There are certain life skills that every adult must have to be independent, but those skills are not something that people just know as they mature. The skills must be learned. Parents may forget that, at one time, they did not know how to fill out a job application, get a driver’s license, read a map, clean a bathroom, cook a meal, pay a bill, or do the laundry. These skills are necessary for young adults to navigate the larger world. If they enter adulthood without these skills, they are likely to quickly lose their confidence, and then move back home. You can learn more about teaching life skills to your teen in our previous blog: Developing Life Skills in Teens.

Final Thoughts…

Our expectations have a huge impact on our satisfaction, our motivation, and our future actions. If from an early age, you communicate to your child that you expect him/her to become independent, you are much more likely to see those dreams become reality.

One comment

  • Nice one!.
    This is what I found out in your post
    This is a helpful article for young adults who are struggling to become independent. It provides insightful reasons for young adults moving back home, guidelines for them, and ways parents can prepare teenagers to move out. The tips given on teaching money management, educating about debt, guiding the teen’s future, allowing mistakes, instilling problem-solving skills, and teaching life skills are practical and valuable.
    Ely Shemer

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