Q&A: Moving back home and setting boundaries


We’ve agreed to let our 25-year-old daughter move back home with us. She’s working a part-time job, but feels she needs to come back and “get her life together” before “moving on to the next step.” We don’t know what this means or how to navigate the process. Any advice?

Answer: You’re in good company. For many reasons, some understandable and others regrettable, the number of young adults living at home, or “boomerang children,” is at a record high. Whatever the circumstances, the goal for parents in this situation should be the same: to help their child realise emotional and material independence. 

To start, it’s important to honestly evaluate everyone’s motives. Are you lonely? Needing someone who depends on you? Fearful of and avoiding the empty-nest? Or do you want to encourage growth and maturity? Is your daughter a “perma-child” looking for someone to take care of her? Or is she striving to achieve goals that will lead to her independence?

Next you’ll want to discuss and agree on your terms. Some areas to cover are:

  1. House Rules: If you don’t approve of overnight guests, blaring stereos, profanity, drug use, etc., then clarify your standards up front.
  2. Household Responsibilities: Some amount of rent should be required, even if it’s below market. Making these payments will develop habits necessary for independence. The same is true for contributions in the form of chores.
  3. Progress Indicators: Ongoing lodging privileges should be tied to evidence of moving forward. Is she searching for full-time work? Are school loans and debts being paid down? Is money being saved for future goals?
  4. Length of Stay: A goal for finding her own place should be discussed and agreed on. The date needn’t be set in stone, and can be re-evaluated based on circumstances and the progress being made.     

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