University graduation is a joyous time to celebrate your young adult’s achievements. But it’s also time to make major life decisions — like where they’ll live when school ends.
Option you should be prepared for is moving back in with mom and dad.
Living with parents after University has become increasingly common: More than 42 percent of young adults between the ages of 20 and 29 live with their parents, according to Statistics Canada. In 2011, the highest proportion of young adults living at home was in Ontario (50.6%), followed by Newfoundland and Labrador (44.7%), and of those aged 20 to 24 living at their parent’s home, 69% reported that they have never left according to the 2011 census .
It’s not surprising: Millennials are delaying marriage into their mid-to-late 20’s and they tend to get along better with mom and dad than earlier generations did.
It used to be you were expected to be on your own, and you didn’t really want to hang out with your parents. Today, the relationships are very different.
There are financial reasons, too: Major urban markets sport high rents, and many university grads have student loan debt. As a result, many graduates see moving back home with their parents as a lifeline to help them get on their feet financially.
While allowing grown “kids” to move back home helps them save money or pay off student debt, some critics say the practice can keep young adults from taking responsibility for their lives. Another criticism of the practice is that it perpetuates the dependence of a generation raised by hovering “helicopter parents.”
How to Help Your Child Transition to Independence After University
Your young adult may need or want to move back home, and you may agree. But it’s important not to slip back into the old routines, like doing everything for your child or micromanaging their schedules, which can lead to resentment on both sides.
Keep in mind that the university graduate who’s returning to you is not the same teenage kid who left a few years ago. To live together harmoniously and with mutual respect, experts recommend proactively discussing expectations.
These steps may help make graduates returning to the nest a positive experience that enriches the parent-child relationship.
Focus on the Positives
When your adult child moves back into your home, it may feel like a bit of a setback for both parents and child. However, it can also be a fabulous opportunity to deepen your connection and get to know each other as the people you are, and not as parent and child.
Parents can use the time with a boomerang kid to help them learn financial literacy and get into the habit of saving and investing.
Some families encourage their young adult to put the money they would otherwise have spent on rent, insurance and phone bills into an emergency savings fund — or into their RRSP at work — so they get into the habit of getting their employer match and have a solid start financially.
Try to focus on developing interdependence—in which both parties gain something from each other—rather than simply enabling dependence, says Jane Adams, the author of “I’m Still Your Mother” and a speaker who provides coaching for parents of grown children.
While having your graduate back at home can provide companionship, help with household chores and expenses, it can also give you line of sight into a world you would otherwise miss out on. Having your graduate move back home can also be validating. You must have been a great parent if your kids still want to be around you!
Develop an Exit Plan
Early on, set an expected date when your child will be able to move out independently. The date doesn’t have to be set in stone, but at ensure that everyone is on the same page about the general timeframe and the temporary nature of this living arrangement. After 6 months or a year, make sure you revisit the plan and adjust the dates as needed. This will act as an incentive to keep your graduate motivated and moving in a positive direction.
Identify Their Responsibilities
To avoid feelings of resentment, and to encourage independence, your adult child should have responsibilities within the household beyond taking care of his or her own space and laundry. Take time to discuss together what those responsibilities will be, such as doing yard work, cleaning, or grocery shopping When your child does something for you, acknowledge it — and thank them. Show that you recognize their contribution.
Determine Their Financial Contributions
Think about how or whether your adult child could contribute financially to the household by paying rent or helping with other bills. They likely weren’t contributing to expenses prior to graduating and finding a job, but now it may be worthwhile to have that conversation. Requiring them to make some contribution may encourage responsibility and avoid resentment. Just don’t make finances the crux of your relationship.
Monetary contributions should be discussed, then dropped. If your graduate is employed, find a realistic, even token contribution—such as keeping gas in the car, paying the utility bill or their own cellphone bill, or a small monthly rent. If you can afford it, put that money away and return it to your child as a gift when he or she leaves to live on his/her own.
Resolve to communicate openly, like adults. Decide that if something upsets you or your adult child, you will discuss it honestly and respectfully. If your graduate says they are living at home to save money and you see them spending all of it on clothes and concert tickets, it’s okay to ask about it and to make a plan for how to achieve it.
Set Your Boundaries
Like most parents, you probably want to help your child in any way you can. But in some cases, adult children can take advantage of their parents or the situation, and no parent has to sacrifice their own finances, safety or values to accommodate a grown child.
Make sure you set boundaries for how you’d like for things to go, and if needed, you are free to say that you’d like them to make other plans. It is, after all, your home.
Being proactive can help you avoid making your graduate’s move back home stressful for both you & your young adult. Enjoy the time you have together and focus on positives as a new way to turn your parent-adult child relationship into a life long friendship.
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.