Imagine this… Your 27-year-old son, who’s lived away from home for seven years and recently moved in with his girlfriend, has become unhappy in his job, so he asked if he could move back home while going back to university to study for the career change he wants to make.
Your natural instinct is to mother him and offer emotional support. But you’re a little wary about the practicalities of all living under the same roof again.
You’re not alone. Research shows that half of all 18- to 24-year-olds still live at home with their parent or parents, while at 25 to 34 years of age, almost one in five still live in the parental home. At 35 to 44 years of age, almost one in 20 still live under the parental roof. There appear to be some gender differences, with girls flying the nest on average three years earlier than boys.
4 TIPS FOR MAKING IT WORK
Debbie Pincus, a therapist who specialises in family dilemmas, says that it’s important to be honest about what you expect from your children when they move back home. Tensions arise because each side makes assumptions about the other’s expectations.
1 Asking yourself the following questions:
How long do you expect your children to live at home?
What do you think they should be doing to get a job or launch a career?
Do you expect them to help with the housework, and contribute to food costs and the household bills?
2 Talk it through
If possible, talk before your child moves back.
A good way in is to say, “Let’s talk about what each of us needs. How can we make it work best?”
Make your expectations clear, but make sure you listen carefully too. Keep revisiting the conversations.
3 Work out a plan
How long will you support them while they do work experience?
If you help with rent so they can move out, let them know that after a certain time, you’re going to reduce the amount you put in. This way, their responsibility grows while yours diminishes.
If they have work but they’re saving for a place, again, what’s the target and the time frame?
4 Late starters
Some kids are slower to mature and launch, and drift into living at home.
You may feel protective, but don’t take responsibility for things that they can do for themselves, from doing their washing to making dental appointments on their behalf.
If you feel overwhelmed, remember: you are not responsible for their choices and behaviour.
The only person you are in control of is yourself. State your own bottom lines and make them clear.