Category Archives: Planning strategies

How to set up a contract for adult kids returning home

In Australia, as in the rest of the world, adult children are living at home longer — and when they do leave, they’re quite likely to “boomerang” home within one to four years. In fact, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 54% of 25- to 29-year-olds who live at home were out of the nest at some point, and 8% of 30- to 34-year-olds still live at home!

That prompted Murray Olds and Murray Wilson from Radio 2UE Sydney to give me a call this afternoon to talk about  rules for adult children living at home. I talked to them about the importance of creating a contract or living agreement for adult children moving home. They’ve got the whole interview (about 5 minutes) posted on their website, and you can check it out here.

How to Kick Your Kids Out of the Nest

I was quoted yesterday in a piece for CBS MoneyWatch on what to do when you adult kids move home — or just won’t leave. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

If you hope to ever get your kids out of the house, you need a plan in place before they move back. That plan should set a move-out deadline and define what they need to accomplish while they’re home, says Christina Newberry, co-author of The Hands-On Guide to Surviving Adult Children Living at Home. Newberry speaks from experience, having twice moved home to live with her parents in her 20s. She suggests families agree to a policy for everything from overnight guests to sharing the TV and the house computer. Do not baby your children, she warns. “If you treat them like a kid again, you’re not helping them — you are creating a lifestyle that they won’t be able to maintain when they leave,” she says. “Your job is to get them to where they don’t need you anymore.”

You can read the whole article here.

High school's over: Now what?

If you have new grads in your house, you’re going to be doing some “relationship re-negotiating” this summer. Whether they’re staying at home or leaving to attend college, your relationship with your newly adult kids will change. It can be a tough transition for some.

A recent article from the Globe & Mail reviews what kind of rules work for those new grads living at home, and which ones you’ll need to let go. Here are top no-go rules:

The problem with these is that they are for younger kids, and genuinely do not fit in with your child’s new whether-you-like-it-or-not adult status.

1) Requiring them to have a curfew.

2) Regularly asking them where they are going.

3) Expecting them to come to family meals regularly or to participate in family activities.

4) Giving them lectures about how they are going to have to get their act together.

5) Telling them not to talk with food in their mouth.

You can read the full article here.

Recent News Stories featuring

This weekend, we were featured on News1130 Radio in Vancouver and in the Calgary Herald newspaper.

To listen to one of the clips from News1130 Radio, click here.

Our tips for the Calgary Herald article were for families who have new grads moving back home this summer. The key tips from the article are:

  • Establish ground rules prior to move-in. It may sound harsh, but some families find a contract can help formalize rules and keep everyone on the same page.
  • How will the kids contribute? They may not be able to afford market-value rent, but grown children should help offset the extra expenses they create (more money spent on food, higher phone bill, greater water consumption, etc.). Give them the heads up on what’s expected beforehand.
  • Don’t make living at home a dream come true. A university grad is capable of painting their room, doing their laundry and making their lunch. – Set a deadline for them to leave. Setting a timeline keeps everyone focused on the fact that eventually the young adult needs to become independent.
  • Stay calm. Planning the details of your kid’s return home can be stressful. Take some deep breaths and work on developing new communication techniques — they’ll come in handy.

You can read the whole article here.

Life with 'boomerang kids' can bring some conflicts

We were quoted in an article about adult children living at home in today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“The communication part is so important,” says Christina Newberry, 31, of Vancouver, British Columbia, whose Web site,, markets a $27.97 contract for parents and children that lists the ground rules in advance.

“Conversations are helpful, but it can be really difficult when you’re having a fight to remember exactly what you agreed to do or not do,” said Ms. Newberry. “Agreeing on the rules ahead of time is a really helpful way to make sure everyone is on the same page.”

Are your kids graduating college this year? Plan ahead for a smooth transition home.

We posted a new article on our site today, all about how you can plan ahead to make sure your new grad’s return to the nest is a smooth one. Here are some tips from the article:

  • Establish ground rules now: Some families with adult children living at home find a contract can help formalize the rules and keep everyone on the same page.
  • Decide ahead of time how they will contribute: They may not be able to afford market-value rent, but adult children living at home should help make a dent in the extra expenses they create (extra gas, higher phone bill, etc.). Make sure this is clear before they start packing up the dorm.
  • Don’t help too much: A college grad is capable of painting their room and planning their own move. Don’t take care of all the details or you’ll find yourself doing laundry and making lunches once they’re home.
  • Set a deadline for them to leave: Though it may sound harsh, setting a time limit ahead of time helps keep everyone focused on the fact that eventually the new grad needs to establish their independence.
  • Above all: Stay calm! Planning the details of your new grad’s return to the nest can be stressful, but anger isn’t helpful. Try a time out, or work on developing new communication techniques – they’ll come in handy once you’re all sharing a home.

You can read the rest of the article here.

New college grads having a tough time finding jobs

With unemployment rising sharply just as this year’s class of graduates is coming to the end of their education, people are starting to wonder just what will happen to the class of 2009.

The young graduates themselves seem terrified, with a huge portion of them planning to move home because there’s no other way they can see themselves making rent.

Here are some thoughts from college seniors from a recent article at

“You’re graduating into this world and being thrown out of the college bubble and you’re supposed to be able to get a job, which just doesn’t exist.

“Most people I know my age still live at home because they can’t even get it together to make enough money to pay rent. Each class piles up against the ones before it. I know so many people who are looking for jobs, and have been since they graduated. There’s this sense of ‘No hope.'”
– Andrew Heber, 24, class of  2007

“People are saying this is the worst year to graduate, ever.”
– Amanda Haimes, 22, class of 2009

If you have an adult child who is set to graduate this Spring, now’s the time to start the conversation about future living arrangements. Some new graduates may assume they’re moving home to live with Mom and Dad, even if they haven’t let you in on the plan. Talk to them now about what their plans are, and what your expectations are if they do return to the nest.

Adult children's stuff stays at home — even when the adult children move out

For families with adult children living at home, space can often be a concern. Adults simply need more personal space than children do, and the needs of several adults living in one home can clash.

For some families, space is an issue long after the adult children finally move out — because they leave so much of their stuff behind at Mom and Dad’s.

There’s Louise Hill, for example, who at 91 is still storing a garage full of stuff belonging to her 65-year-old son.

You can read more about Louise, and other families squeezed out by their adult kids’ stuff, in this article from The Floria Times-Union.

When establishing a timeline for your adult children to leave home, don’t leave yourself responsible for taking care of their stuff for the rest of your life. For your adult child to reach true independence, they must not only move out of your house themselves, they must take their belongings with them.

It may not be possible for adult kids to take all of their cherished possessions with them when they first manage to find an apartment or have roommates, and there’s nothing wrong with keeping their stuff around if it helps them out and you have the space. But if you want to downsize, or turn your child’s old bedroom into a den, it’s time to get firm on a “stuff-removal” timeline. You may want to put this step into the timeline you create that establishes milestones for your adult child’s stay at home and their transition to a place of their own.

You can learn how to create a timeline for helping adult children establish independence at

Expert says establishing boundaries is #1 step

In a recent article from, Helen DeVries, director of the doctorate psychology program at Wheaton College offered the following advice for families with adult children moving home:

To make it work and ensure things stay amicable rather than resentful, you have to frame it more like you’re cohabiting with roommates. In that scenario, there’s a splitting of chores and errands. It’s easy to slip back into the routine you had pre-college, but you have to try to make it more collegial than hierarchical. Parents need to say ‘We’re delighted we’re able to help you, but you’ll be expected to cook one night a week or do all of the ironing or give us X amount of dollars for the cable bill.

One of the families profiled in the article used a contract to set the terms with their adult child — and everyone seems pleased with the results. You can learn more about how to create a contract for adult children living at home here.