I asked several of my friends if they were familiar with the term Boomerang Generation. Although the expression was not familiar to them, when I explained what Boomerang Generation inferred, many of them immediately recalled someone who was living evidence of the term. The Boomerang Generation is an expression coined by the media to describe the current generation of young adults (between the ages of 18 to 35) who are not financially independent and who choose to live with their parents after a period of living on their own.
According to the Pew Research Center, 13 % of parents with grown children between the ages of 25 to 34 reported that one of their adult children was living at home. In the past four years, the number of college graduates who return home after graduation and live with their parents has increased from 42% to 52%.
The economy has been the primary factor contributing to this trend. Many adult children moved back home to wait out the recession. And what started as a temporary “crash pad” has become their permanent residence. An analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the Pew Research Center reported that 37% of 18 to 29 year olds are unemployed or out of the workforce entirely. It is not only the unemployed, however, who are moving back home. A sizeable number of boomerang kids are returning to the nest or accepting subsidies from their parents to assist in developing careers, paying off student debts, or recovering from divorce.
The phenomenon of boomerang/delayed home leaving has generated considerable inquiries and discussions. Critics of the practice, such as Kathleen Shaputis, are concerned about the negative effect that this trend has on the financial and social independence of adult children. It has been reported that young adults who return home after unsuccessful job hunting often become more passive in their search for employment, especially if they continue to be financially supported by their parents. For many young adults returning home from the unrestrictive nature of college life, the readjustment to their parents’ domestic expectations proves extremely difficult. Parents also realize that they must learn to manage a new and different family structure.
Though inter-generational cohabitation can be challenging, many who are involved in the arrangement have found benefits in the experience. The arrangement tends to force all involved to communicate and negotiate in ways they didn’t do when the children were pre-adults. It can provide financial relief to the young person and provide benefits to the parents. In many situations, the young person retains all or nearly all of his income. Striking an amenable arrangement leads to healthy adult relationships between parents and adult children.
If you have an adult child who has requested to move back home or if you have a boomeranger living with you, it is not too late to establish some ground rules for a trouble-free transition. First, talk about the move back home. It is an opportunity for you to share the changes that you have undergone since your child moved out and it also gives you an opportunity to learn about the changes your child has undergone. You need to feel comfortable and positive about the situation and prior to reaching a final decision consider the following suggestions.
Discuss a time limit: Whatever the circumstances for the boomerang kid to return home, define mutual expectations for the approximate length of time. Will this be a three month stay or a year stay? Along with the time limit, discuss mutual expectations for house rules and responsibilities. This should be a two way conversation and not a pronouncement by the parent.
Discuss rent and other financial contributions such as food, phone, and other incidentals. Roughly half of the boomerang kids pay rent ranging from $200 a month to the going market rate. Some families start at one rate and then raise the monthly rent as the months “tick-by”. Some families have admitted that they charged rent but set the money aside and presented it as a nest egg when the adult child moved out.
It may seem unrealistic to set a curfew for a fully-grown, independent adult but it is important to discuss and agree on a set of household rules, particularly when it comes to issues such as late nights, relationships, alcohol and overnight guest.
Decide on household chores – whether it is making dinner one night a week, buying groceries, doing yard work or cleaning. A discussion of this nature is important; otherwise, it becomes too easy to slip back into the mom-takes-care of everything routine.
Communication will be the key to a happy household. There should be an open discussion between parent and adult child about expectations, chores and finances. One of the primary goals for opening your home to your adult child is to foster independence. Every household will work on a different time frame and with different levels of support to achieve that goal. You will need to be mindful of what works best in your household so that you do not become resentful of the situation and independence can be achieved by your boomeranged.