Category Archives: Family stories

A view into my past

If you’ve read my book, or have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that the book was inspired partly by the experiences I had myself as an adult child living at home.

This past weekend, I went to my mom’s place to help her set up a new computer. While transferring her files over, we found a folder called “Christina” in her documents. Inside was an essay I wrote about my feelings in June 2000, when I was 22 and just getting ready to leave home again after a 9-month after-college stay as an adult. I thought it would be nice to share my thoughts from 9 years ago with you, so here it is:.

June 3, 2000

I, like many others, left my parents’ house the September after I graduated from high school. At age 17 I left to conquer the world, or at least to gather the skills to do so, as I headed to the University of Victoria. For four years I lived on my own, or with room-mates, working and going to school, the whole while feeling like a child playing house –- getting up to minor mischief and reveling in the lack of “adult” supervision. As graduation drew near, however, as I moved into my twenties and started to think about what my parents’ lives had been like at the same age, I realized that adulthood was looming and I was no longer playing house; I was building a life in my own home.

The end of my studies came and went with surprisingly little fanfare. I walked out of my final exam knowing that my university experience was over and that I was a student no longer, but not knowing what new label would replace my student identity. I had no job lined up, and I didn’t know quite where to start looking. There was suddenly nothing holding me in the town that had been my home for four years, so at age 21 I packed up my bags again and returned to my parents’ home.

During the four years I had been away, my father had retired, my younger sister had left home to herself become a student, and the resident cat had taken over the role of favored child. Re-integrating myself into this home that was so familiar and yet just not my home anymore was difficult. I brought with me a cat of my own, and the two cats faced off for control of the house. My parents and I faced off in similar, if more subtle, ways. I was a child when I left but an adult when I returned, and the integration of an adult-child into the household meant the rules and patterns had to change. In this, my parents’ home, I no longer had the freedom of a child playing house; instead I joined a fairly large segment of my peers who had returned to the empty nest and reverted to a kind of extended infancy. I was suddenly overwhelmed by adult supervision, and I felt like this place I lived in was not truly my home. In the nine months I have lived there, I have spent less and less time “at home” and have often felt like I was drifting, just waiting for something to push me back into a life of my own. Reverting to childhood is so easy, and it is nice to be looked after for a time, but now at 22 it is time to leave this easy shelter again.

Returning to the empty nest was at times comforting, at times chaotic for all involved. As I pack my boxes to strike out on my own once again, I look forward to the long evenings I will spend visiting in this place which is, after all, very much my parents’ home.

I’m so glad that I now get to help families who are struggling through their own version of this scenario. Best wishes to all of you who have adult children living at home — remember that the situation can be tough on them too.

The little things can make a big difference

Today we’re sharing a blog post from a woman whose adult son lives with her. She started off her day talking to her son about the great meal she was going to make that evening. When he said it sounded good, she assumed he’d be home to help her eat it.

After a lot of work in the kitchen and a few hours waiting for him to show, it became clear the adult son wasn’t coming home for dinner. When his mom asked him what happened, he said that just because he said the dinner sounded good didn’t mean he’d planned on eating it.

For the mom, this was pretty frustrating, as you can imagine. When parents and kids try to navigate the uncharted waters of living together as adults, small misunderstandings can lead to massive frustration, and even build resentment. It’s important for everyone to talk openly with one another, and to make it clear what things matter to them. Reading this mom’s blog, it’s clear that preparing a meal is an act of love for her — but maybe her son doesn’t get that because she’s always been the one who made his dinners.

You can read the blog post here.

As you read it, think about any niggling details that may be bothering you in your own relationship with your adult kids living at home. Then resolve to talk about those feelings the next time you have a chance. If you need some help working on your communication strategy, our book has some great tips and resources for you to use.

"It now takes four of us to make ends meet"

In this tough economy, more adult children are moving home than ever before. And sometimes, it’s not just the adult kids who need financial support. Nowadays, parents may be having a hard time dealing with their own living expenses, and may need the extra financial support that comes from adult kids living at home, even if the adult children can’t contribute much.

Here are some stories of families in just this situation, including one family with two adult children, their spouses and five small children (with a sixth child on the way), plus a teenage stepdaughter and the homeless friend of a college-age son, all living in a three-bedroom home. Their food bill is almost $1,000 a month — but for 14 people, that sounds like a steal.

You can read the whole story here.

Three generations — and 14 people — under one roof

Today’s Dayton Daily News has the story of one family that has three generations — and 14 people — living under one roof. They’ve managed to convert lots of unused spaced into bedrooms, but there’s still only one full bathroom, which makes for tight scheduling! With several of their kids, plus their kids’ kids, all living in what was originally a three bedroom home, they’re sure to face some interesting challenges.

You can read the full article here.

Different perspectives on adult children living at home

A recent article from the New York Times provides some different perspective from adult children who are living at home. Some feel the bedroom they have at their parents’ house is their last bit of private space and figure they should be able to treat it how they want (as long as they don’t damage the house). Others strongly feel that they are guests in their parents homes and strive to minimize the impact of the presence, even in their own bedroom. Which perspective is playing out in your house?

You can read the whole article here.

If you’re struggling to find a balance between your adult child’s need for space and privacy and your own needs for your home, check out the tips offered in our book.

Family dynamic changes as each child returns home

Here’s a recent article from Ohio that profiles families with adult children moving home. One mother, who is now sharing her home with her 20-year-old and 27-year-old daughters, as well as her 29-year-old son-in-law, says that things change as each new person moves into the home, just as they changed when the girls first arrived home as infants:

“I remember bringing home each new baby. As with any family dynamic, everything changes and we had to shuffle and make things work.”

You can read the whole article here.

Moving home is different at 45 than 25

This recent article from the Ventura County Star tells the stories of some families with adult children who have moved home, or are considering doing so, because of layoffs and other economic troubles. According to the article:

For young adults in their 20s or 30s, moving back in with parents can create a power struggle around the young adult’s emerging identity, according to Dr. Debra Sheets, a CSU, Northridge health sciences professor who counts intergenerational issues among her specialties.

Younger adults are still marking their territory, but when you’re older, you’re supposed to be established. Moving back in with the parents holds a more negative social stigma.

More stories of adult children living at home

We keep hearing more and more stories of adult children living at home as the economy worsens and more people lose jobs and can’t afford their housing costs.

This recent article from the LA Times shares a few of those stories.

This growing trend can be really tough on families, as the article reveals. For help with the challenges of dealing with extra people living in your home, visit

Admitting to living at home on a first date may reveal your date does too!

This recent article from the Philadelphia Inquirer profiles a couple of twenty-somethings who were both afraid to reveal that they lived with their parents on their first date. It turned out, of course, that like many of their peers they were both living at home.

It makes for interesting dating scenarios, like this one:

There is also the privacy issue. When [Mike] and [Kelly] cozy up to watch a movie on the weekends, a parent might walk through the TV room. They tell their parents of their whereabouts when going out, something they’d never have to do living on their own. And that spare bedroom in [Mike’s] family’s trilevel in Cherry Hill? That’s where [Kelly] sleeps. “At least, to the best of my knowledge that’s where she sleeps when she comes here,” says Barbara Englisch, Mike’s mother.

Sleepovers are one contentious issue (of many) when adult children live at home. It’s important for all of these issues to be sorted out ahead of time to keep all family members happy with the living arrangement. We explain how to decide what works best for your family at