Adult kids who have never left home

Because the trend is so visible, we often end up focusing on boomerang kids — adult children who have moved away from their parents’ home and moved back in as adults, often after college, the loss of a job, or the end of a marriage or live-in relationship. But there’s another group of adult children living at home, of course — those who never left. Maybe they went to a local college, or lived at home while going through an apprenticeship or training program. Or maybe they’ve just become a bit stuck because they don’t quite know what to do with their lives, and they have a comfortable nest in which to linger. How do parents help these adult kids get on the path to independence?

In some ways this is harder that dealing with boomerang kids, since there is no clear moment at which to have a family meeting that sets out the rules/expectations for the adult child and develop a timeline for their stay at home. But in some ways it’s easier, since the relationship will have evolved slowly rather than been faced with the shock of an adult child returning home who has developed habits and become used to the patterns and behaviors associated with living independently.

Ideally the family should still have this kind of meeting — the challenge is figuring out when it is appropriate. For some families it may be as soon as the child graduates from high school, while for others it may be after college graduation. But other than the timing of the meeting, all the strategies stay the same: Figure out the adult child’s financial impact ¬†on the household, figure out ways to mitigate that, assign the child a financial responsibility, discuss acceptable behaviors and expectations, and determine an acceptable length of time for the adult child to stay at home. Then, work on developing a reasonable timeline with some meaningful goals and milestones along the way to help the adult child
achieve independence by that timeline.

Remember: The parents’ main job in parenting any adult child is to help the adult child get to the point where he or she doesn’t need to depend on the parents any more and can live
independently.

The video below talks about dealing with adult kids moving home after college, but I’ve set it to start part-way through so you can get straight to some tips that also apply to setting expectations for adult kids who have never left the nest.