How to Avoid the Top 5 Mistakes Made by Parents with Adult Children Living at Home

By Christina Newberry

Whether they’ve never left the nest or, like so many in the “boomerang generation, they’re returning home after some time away, you’re likely struggling to find ways to make the relationship with your adult children living at home work.

The good news is, adult children can live successfully at home – but only if you avoid some critical mistakes right from the start (or correct them right away!).

1. Encouraging rebellion by taking up parenting right where you left off

It may be hard to remember sometimes, but adult children living at home are still adults. A sure way to set yourself up for conflict is to over-parent your adult children.

Adult children living at home who are over-parented and over-supervised will rebel as quickly as teenagers, so you need to develop some strategies to establish a new adult-to-adult relationship – quick!

2. Stealing your child’s independence by giving them a “free ride”

It can be very tempting to try to help your adult children living at home by covering all of their living expenses – especially if they’ve returned home after a personal crisis like losing a job or the end of a relationship.

But why should they ever learn to take care of themselves when you’re all too eager to do it for them? Even a short-term stay should require your adult children living at home to contribute to household expenses and chores. The best way to set these expectations clearly is by working out a household budget, so everyone is on the same page in terms of the extra costs your adult child is causing at home.

3. Assuming that since you’re all grown-ups, there’s no need for rules

If you think you don’t need ground rules for your adult children living at home, consider how you’d feel about them smoking, drinking, or using drugs in your home – or even bringing a lover to stay overnight.

As strange as it may sound, experts agree that the best way to discuss – and stick to – these household rules is to draft up a customized contract between you and your adult children living at home.

4. Compromising your own financial situation to support your adult children living at home

With adult children living at home, you’ll be using more heat, hot water, and electricity. You’ll need to buy more groceries. In fact, all your household expenses will increase.
But no matter what you do, do not put your own financial future on the line to support your adult children living at home. You do neither yourself nor your children any good by creating extra debt or obligations for yourself.

If you don’t know where the money to make the situation work will come from, you need to think long and hard about whether you can help your adult children by having them live at your home.

5. Assuming your adult children will leave when the time is right

The best way to ensure your adult children living at home leave within a reasonable timeframe is to establish a clear timeline for their stay and milestones to help them reach independence.

Most adult children living at home don’t plan to stay forever. But if they don’t have any clear idea of when they need to leave – or how they’ll work towards being able to do so, they may end up stuck.

By establishing a timeline with clear milestones, you can empower your adult children living at home to leave the nest. If you don’t create a timeline, they may end up calling your house “home” for much longer than you – or even they – had planned.

Final Thoughts

Having adult children living at home can be extremely challenging for everyone involved. But there are some simple ways to make the situation easier for everyone, and avoiding these 5 dangerous mistakes is a key step.

Remember that a successful relationship with your adult children living at home really boils down to establishing good ground rules and managing expectations. One of the best ways to do that is to create a contract that everyone in the home will stick to.

About the Author: Christina Newberry is author of The Hands-On Guide to Surviving Adult Children Living at Home. For detailed information on how to avoid the common mistakes mentioned in this article, along with a customizable “Under one Roof” contract and household budget calculator, visit her website at