We love our children and work hard to teach them how to be independent and responsible. And while that may not make it any easier for us when they do leave, it can give us peace of mind they are going to be okay and thrive on their own.
I am sure there are many parents who want their kids to come back to live with them because they miss them and are nostalgic for the past — or perhaps they just think that’s what they want.
Studies show that having a child move out, attend college, or make their way into the real world, then come back to live at home can be extremely stressful on parents.
A recent article in The Guardian entitled “Boomerang offspring damage parents’ wellbeing, study finds,” explains that while parents may daydream about having their babies back, in reality, it affects their way of life.
A survey by London School of Economics shows more young adults are coming back home to live than ever before because of “rising housing costs and job insecurity.”
And in most cases, it’s not working out well for the parents.
The reasons? Most adults make adjustments after their children have left the house by reinvesting in their relationships, taking trips, or trying new hobbies. They’ve fallen into a new habit and adjusted to a different lifestyle. And when they have a child move back at home, it disrupts their new lease on life, so to speak. Change always brings back a certain amount of stress, especially when who you share a home with changes, and this situation is no different.
According to the article, a quarter of young adults in the United Kingdom have moved back in with their parents and that is the highest rate since 1996 when records began.
The LSE discovered that while this “boomerang phenomenon” may be somewhat helpful to older parents who could use the help around the house, crave companionship, or might benefit financially from having their child move home and pay rent, there were more negative effects on younger parents who let their kids move back at home.
I spoke with Dr. Richard Horowitz of Growing Great Relationships, who says the stress can indeed impact parents as their newfound routines are interrupted.
Dr. Horowitz also explains that it’s hard not to view the fact your adult child has come back home to live again as a sign of failure. “Some parents experience this as their failure, while others blame the child but try not to act on that which causes stress,” he says.
But there are ways to make this transition easier on all involved. Dr. Horowitz recommends that the child and parents sit down and impose rules and boundaries for everyone and says you should discuss “all your needs and expectations,” as it’s important for everyone to be heard and understood.
Dr. Horowitz states stress may stem from a feeling of lack of control and it’s important not to harbor resentment towards your child because you feel they have failed in some way.
Many times in this situation, the parent feels their child isn’t working up to their potential and they aren’t trying hard enough to reach specific goals. When this feeling creeps up, Dr. Horowitz says it’s important to have a conversation that’s “productive, not blaming.”
Parents also need to consider the possibility that their child will return home to live with them, and things will not work out. They need to be prepared to lay down the law and tell their child to leave.
Sometimes tough love is the best love as hard as it may be on parents and the child. And while we all want what’s best for our kids, and want to be there to support them along the way, sometimes that looks like welcoming them back home, and there are times when we may have to turn them away to save everyone’s wellbeing.