Previous Article
Next Article


Inside IBH: Boomerang Kids: They Just Keep on Coming

Print Article


Before the transition, parents and children should sit down together and put everything out on the table. It's sometimes a good idea to have a family discussion in "neutral" territory, such as a favorite restaurant or coffee house. Wherever it happens, it's important to look at several things so a happy home doesn't turn into a war zone.

Set up house rules.
Draw up a contract which deals with scheduling (who's going to use which bathroom when in the mornings?), kitchen duties (will everyone trade-off cooking and washing dishes, and who buys the food?), visitors (especially of the opposite sex), laundry and household chores, smoking and alcohol use, noise and privacy issues, etc.

Having firm, written rules—even posting them in the house—is especially important when small children or teenagers are part of the package.

Decide upon a contribution.
Whatever is agreed upon, it is extremely important that the child back at home makes a regular contribution to the household. Usually this means a monthly rent or payment of some household expenses, but often includes a set responsibility for chores and/or home repairs.

Spell out the goals of the stay.
As a family, agree upon the reason for a child's return home. Is it about saving money, securing a job, or recovering from a difficult situation? Putting this in concrete terms allows everyone to see the situation is not open-ended, and not something that's going to happen over and over again.

Pin down a timeframe.
It may sound ruthless, but as a parent you're not helping your child unless you set limits. Whether it's two months or two years, it serves everyone best to commit to a timeframe, and work toward it.

Look outside and think ahead.
Parents need to look outside the home and consider any limitations in a lease, or by a homeowner's association, about the number of residents or cars. Also worth investigating is the homeowner's liability coverage, and if there are any tax implications because of additional household members.

Don't forget to take care of yourself.
When a child is in need, moms and dads are usually happy to help as much as is possible. However, when you're putting yourself out there as a parent, remember to keep an eye on your own needs, as well.

Keep communicating.
Problems will come up, and if they're swept under the rug, there's no chance of resolution. You might want to hold regular family meetings. If two parents are involved, make sure to form a united front. Parents, as well as children, should keep talking so that unwanted patterns of behavior from years gone by don't get repeated.

Remember your new relationship.
Even though they're home again, they're not kids anymore. Respecting each other as adults means that everyone takes care of themselves, and everyone treats everyone else with respect. This includes checking in with each other about comings and goings.

Make sure everyone has space.
Giving up a room or portion of the garage or kitchen in "your" house for your child may not be your first choice. But in a multigenerational household, it's vital that everyone has their own personal space. Remember, the sacrifice is only temporary.

Don't let go of your own goals.
Until the kids grow up, parents are often used to putting their own plans on hold. It's always easy to shift back into that mode but if your children return home as grown-ups,  don't revert to old habits. Hang onto any retirement or long-term goals, whether it comes to financial planning or taking care of your own personal relationships.

Sure, parents have a lot at stake when it comes to opening up their homes to their adult children. And the situation gets even more complicated when the kids have partners, or kids themselves, and instead of an empty nest it's a full house and then some.

But the bottom line is that when boomerang kids come back, they generally give more than they get. Whether married or single, if you as a parent can keep an open mind, you can discover a whole new world of possibilities. Because after all of these years, is possible that both you and your children have learned something new.

Workplace Options. (Reviewed 2013). Boomerang kids: They just keep on coming. Raleigh, NC: Author. Reprinted by permission.

HR News



Workplace Learning & Wellness Programs


View Full Calendar


Spotlight is published monthly by Human Resources. Please address any comments to Hillary Kwiatek, Spotlight Editor, Human Resources, 428 Brodhead Avenue, send email to hik210@lehigh.edu, or call extension 85165.

Current and past issues of Spotlight can be viewed and searched at: Past Issues.