Category Archives: General advice

Advice for living with boomerang kids: Videos

I recently had the chance to do a series of interviews with Rob Carrick, the personal finance columnist at national Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail. You can now watch videos of all three of those interviews online:


Here are a couple of pictures from the video shoot. Enjoy the videos!

rob carrick 3 roc carrick 2

Is it harder for young adults to find jobs than it was a decade ago?

Yesterday, I was a guest on CBC Radio’s national Cross Country Checkup program, which tackled the issue of whether it’s harder for young adults to find jobs than it was a decade ago – and what that means in terms of getting them launched into independence. It was an interesting program, and I found myself wishing I could jump in at many parts of the show, not just in the segment in which I was interviewed.

To the mom who said she was anticipating one of her three kids was likely to boomerang home because 26% of young adults do so, I wanted to say she might want to prepare for two of them: In Canada, the actual number of young people aged 20-29 living at home according to the most recent census is 42.3%. (It varies across the country, of course. In Toronto, which has the most adult children living at home, the number is actually 56.3%)

I had a great twitter interaction with Sumaiya Ahmed, who took some ribbing from guest host Suhana Meharchand for suggesting parents should help their adult children network to find a job. It turns out we agree that parents can be a positive force in their children’s job search, but that it’s also possible to take that help too far.

I wanted to talk to some of the young people who called in saying that it was just too hard to find work that was fulfilling, and that they were giving up high-paying jobs (and expecting financial help from their parents) to pursue opportunities that better aligned with their dreams. I wanted to tell them that pursing your dreams is certainly a worthwhile endeavor, but that in your thirties it’s not your parents job to pay for it (it can be financially challenging for them, too), and sometimes your job will simply not be the source of your life’s fulfilment. Certainly the jobs you have to take on to build experience in the early stages of your career are likely to be less than you’d dreamed. But you need to build experience and gain skills that provide value to an employer before you have the bargaining power to craft your dream career.

All of that to say that if you missed the show, you can listen to it here. My segment begins at about 1:16:00.

How old is too old to take money from your parents?

The Debaters is a debate-format comedy program produced by CBC (the national broadcaster) in Canada. This morning, they took on the subject of whether it’s acceptable to ask your parents for money after you turn 30. It’s a comedy show, so the arguments are pretty ridiculous, but it may provide some comic relief for those whose kids are well past 30 and still relying on the Bank of Mom and Dad.

You can listen to a short clip for free on the CBC website, or download the entire episode from iTunes.

What to do with an adult child's stuff when they move home

A reader recently asked me what adult children who have had their own home should do with all their accumulated stuff when moving back in with their parents. Should they put it in storage? Should the parents put some things in storage? Here’s my answer:

I would highly recommend against the parents putting any items in storage – this sends all the wrong signals about who the home belongs to. But it could certainly make sense for adult children to put their things in storage – basically anything that won’t fit in their own room or be useful to other household members. Two key points one this.

  1. The adult child should pay to store their own items if they are
    stored outside the home.
  2. If the items are stored in the home – in the basement, garage, etc. – the adult child absolutely must take them (or get rid of them) once they do move out again.

The Nest that Doesn't Empty: Article in the Deseret News

“People make a lot of assumptions about how it’s going to work, and expectations can lead to a lot of challenges, especially if the children have a different perception of what staying at home is going to be like,” said Christina Newberry, Vancouver, Canada, author of “The Hands-On Guide to Surviving Adult Children Living at Home.”

“Parents may be focused on trying to get the children out of the house and the children may not be aware of that. Once you’re an adult, the goal is to get out of your parents’ home. So the conversation is why you’re at home and the steps needed to achieve independence. You should also discuss expectations in terms of how to behave when at home.”

Read the rest in the Deseret News.

Reporter looking for familiy that's used a contract with adult kids

As you know, I highly recommend putting together a contract with your adult kids who are moving home. I think this is so important that I provide a contract template in the toolkit available with my book.

A reporter from a major newspaper is writing a story on this topic and is hoping to speak with a parent who’s used a contract with their adult kids. If you’ve done so, and you’re interested in being interviewed for a story, send me an e-mail and I’ll connect you with the reporter.

Disturbing facts about parents meddling in the job search

Recently, I’ve seen some disturbing survey findings about what adult children and their parents think is appropriate in terms of parental help in the job hunt.

From research done by Gary Insch, Joyce Heames and Nancy McIntyre at the College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University:

  • Nearly 70% of students found it “somewhat” or “very appropriate” to receive help from their parents when writing a resume or a cover letter.
  • 20% thought it was fine to have their parents contact a prospective employer.

And according to a poll of employers by Michigan State University (this one is a bit dated, as it comes from 2007, but I suspect the trend is for parental involvement to be increasing rather than decreasing):

  • 40% of employers had dealt with parents contacting the company to obtain information
  • 31% had dealt with parents submitting resumes on behalf of their children
  • 15% had dealt with parents complaining if the company did not hire their child
  • 12% had dealt with parents trying to negotiate their children’s salary and benefits
  • 4% had seen parents attend their children’s job interviews!

As part of the survey, one employer even felt compelled to offer the following advice to parents: “Please tell your student that you have submitted a resume to a company. We have called a student from our resume pool only to find they did not know anything about our company and were not interested in a position with us.”

A note from the report to those parents who think they are helping by being directly involved in their adult children’s job search: “Many [employers] responded that they take parental presence in the job search as a negative and would like to see less parental ‘interference.’”

If you’re looking for legitimately helpful ways to assist your adult children in the job hunt, check out my tips in the article How to Help Adult Children Living at Home Find a Job.


Mom: The laundry is not your job.

Tide has a new commercial showing the parents of adult triplets — who have all moved back home — doing those triplets’ laundry. I understand that Tide thought this was a cute play on their previous commercial that showed parents of baby triplets struggling to keep up with all the laundry they produced. But yikes! I have heard far too many times about parents (usually mothers, if we’re being honest) who start doing their children’s laundry when the kids move back in as adults. This is such a bad idea. Adult children living at home are adults and need to deal with basic adult functions like doing their own laundry. So, go ahead, watch the commercial below and chuckle (or cringe). But whatever you do, don’t take it as parenting advice!

The New Normal?

I do a lot of reading about adult children living at home. In the last little while, I’ve seen more and more journalists referring to the phenomenon of adult kids living at home in their twenties and even early thirties as the “new normal.” Is it the new normal? This doesn’t quite site right with me for a couple of reasons.

First, while the numbers of adult children living at home are increasing, for all age groups over 25, they are still in the minority. Adult children over age 25 are living at home in increasing numbers, but that number is firmly in the minority category. Even for the 18- to 24-year-old age group, the number just squeaks into majority territory (52.8% of 18 to 24-year-olds live with their parents according to researchers at Columbia University in New York based on data from the U.S. Current Population Survey). Fifty-two percent is not a large enough number to say “everybody’s doing it.” In fact, it’s only just over half. Is this the new normal?

Second, when things become “normal,” that generally means we know how to deal with them as a society. But the trend of young adults moving back in with their parents is not yet something we are equipped to deal with in North American society. The rules about financial support are especially unclear. In societies where it really is normal (and expected) for adult children to live at home, there is also an expectation of reciprocal support. Adult children live with their parents and may receive financial support, but they have defined roles within the household that may include looking after younger siblings or cousins, or contributing to the household work and cooking. When parents are elderly, their children are expected to return the favor through financial and emotional support. It’s a balanced system that is not currently in place in the broader North American society.

And third, calling adult kids living at home the new normal minimizes the emotional and financial impact it can have on parents, both of which are very real — and very challenging.

Adult children living at home may be a growing trend, but it is not (yet) the new normal. Both parents and adult kids living in this situation need to plan for the emotional and financial challenges and work hard to make the situation function well for both generations.