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Home - When the Nest Is Not So Empty: When Kids Return Home

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By Jane Conroy, Extension Educator, University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Between 2005 and 2011, the proportion of young adults living in their parents’ home increased, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The percentage of men age 25 to 34 living in the home of their parents rose from 14 percent in 2005 to 19 percent in 2011 and from 8 percent to 10 percent over the period for women.

father and adult son; photo by Edwin RemsbergSimilarly, 59 percent of men age 18 to 24 and 50 percent of women that age resided in their parents’ home in 2011, up from 53 percent and 46 percent, respectively, in 2005. It should be noted that college students living in a dormitory are counted in their parents’ home, so they are included in these percentages.

Because the financial concerns of each member of the family affects the lives and plans for others, most situations need to be discussed openly while having a plan to work together and problem solve when needed. By working together, a family can help ensure that each of its members will enjoy as much comfort, respect, and dignity as possible with the living arrangement.

Expectations, setting it up ahead of time

  • What are the short-term and long-term goals and reasons for making this arrangement?
  • How will the person/people contribute to the household (financially and non-financially)?
  • How is the relationship different from when in High School or younger?
  • How do you define cleanliness?
  • What do you require if your child is married and brings a spouse or children to live with you?

Who will pay for what?

  • Rent/savings
  • Food/mealtime
  • Personal supplies
  • Claiming on taxes (you should consult with your tax preparer/IRS)

Where will they stay? What do they need for space?

  • A bedroom space
  • Who will make any modifications needed?
  • Shared living space or what’s off-limits
  • Parking space
  • Use of facilities (laundry, mail, etc.)
  • Entertainment
  • Children/pet space

Do you have a signed agreement or guidelines to follow?

What to do when conflicts arise?

  • Create an atmosphere of mutual support, consideration, appreciation, and love. Communicate with your children and allow them to talk openly with you. Let your children know any expectations or concerns you have. Listen to your children’s concerns.
  • TRY open communication, family meeting, regular check-ins

Who will do what household chores?

  • How will this be handled (laundry, food prep/dishes, general cleaning, trash, plowing)?
  • How will final family decisions be made?
  • MYOB (Mind Your Own Business): raising children/pets, overnight quests

Can’t plan for everything (what to do as things arise)

  • Remember that even though your boarders are your children, they are adults and should be given the chance to make their own decisions and mistakes.
  • After the time has ended, reevaluate the living arrangements and decide together with your children if the current arrangements are working.
  • Remember the positive aspects of your adult children living with you. You and your children can offer each other emotional and financial support. Grandchildren benefit from close relationships with grandparents.


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