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January 7, 2014
by Casey Truffo, LMFT

When Your Adult Child Returns to the Nest

January 7, 2014 02:55 by Casey Truffo, LMFT

They're Back!

You've raised your kids and now it's time for you to adjust to living with no children.  Maybe you have children who are getting ready to graduate from college or older children who have a career or are married.  So, what do you do if your adult child asks to return to the nest?  Why on earth would your adult child be asking to return to the nest?  There are many reasons your child may no longer be able to remain self-sufficient.  Maybe there will be a transition from college to career, maybe your child received a layoff, or maybe there is a separation or a divorce forthcoming.

Whatever the reason, your adult child is asking to come home and you will need to set some ground rules.  Yes, ground rules.  Yes, your child is an adult; however, your child is now living in your home.  As they say: your house; your rules.  You do not want this to be a picnic for your child, or your child may stay under your roof for a very long time. 

When parents do not establish ground rules before allowing an adult child to return to the nest, they may end up broke.  Not only will your electric bill rise, but your child may pressure you to help pay for large items, such as car payments or lawyer fees.  It is important to sit down and agree on things to make the situation as pleasant as possible. 

Here are some things that should be ironed out before your child returns to the nest:

  • Coming and going - When you expect your child to be home or if your child decides not to come home, do you expect a phone call?  Do you expect your child to be home by a certain time of night?
  • Cleaning and laundry - What chores does your child intend to do or do you expect your child to do?  How often will your child be expected to buy cleaning supplies and laundry detergent?
  • Visitors - Is it permissible for your child to have people come to your house?  Are drop-in visitors allowed?  What about overnight guests, including members of the opposite sex?
  • Pets - Can your child bring their pet to your house?  If so, who takes care of the pet when your child isn't home?
  • Bills - Are you charging rent?  What bills do you expect your child to pay?  IN what ways do you expect them to contribute financially to the household while they live there? Are you loaning your child money?  If so, is there interest added?
  • Food - Do you plan to share the grocery bill and the cooking of meals, or is everybody on their own to do their own grocery shopping and cooking?  Is the food in the refrigerator up for grabs or not?
  • Time frames - Do you have a certain expectation of when your child will move out and be independent?  If your child is graduating college, do you expect your child will be independent within 5 years?  If your child is going through a divorce, how many months or years are you willing to help them recover?

All of these things should be talked about prior to your child returning to the nest.  Many people recommend you put all of these things in writing in order to remember what was agreed upon, as well as to make your child accountable for what they agreed to at the start.

Some More Tips

Some more tips, or better yet, things not to do, when allowing your adult child to return to the nest include leaving the living situation open-ended, paying for your child's bills, allowing your child to kick back instead of looking for a job, and allowing your child to live in your house with no chores or responsibilities. 

One more thing to consider is that having your adult child move back in with you may cause hardships between you and your spouse.  For the most part, fathers usually want to have their children out of the nest by a specific time, and mothers are usually the ones who want to make sure their children are 100 percent sound financially and ready to go back out on their own.  Sometimes, the smallest incident will set off a parent, causing some animosity between parent and child.  Although this is not the ideal situation, kudos to your child for working up enough courage to ask to return to the nest, rather than make major financial mistakes that could be costly for life. 

If you are having issues with how to deal with your child's request to move back home, or if your child has moved back home but it's causing you grief and unhappiness, consider talking to one of the therapists at the Orange County Relationship Center.  Our professionals are trained to counsel you on all relationship issues, including your child wanting to return to the nest.  Call us today at 949-220-3211, or go online and use our online tool to schedule your appointment.

About the Author

OC Relationship Center OC Relationship Center, LMFT

You deserve to feel better - in your life and relationships. At OC Relationship Center we want to help you find more love, more joy, more peace...and less conflict and less stress. Our licensed and caring counselors can help if you are single, dating, married, divorced.

OC Relationship Center can be found at
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