Should your 20-something live at home?

Barb Ready

Daughter: “Mom, can I bring some friends from college over for dinner Sunday?”
Me: “Yes, honey. We’d love that!”
Daughter: “Mom, I’ll be over for dinner Sunday after church. Just me.”
Me: “Sounds great”
Daughter, after Sunday dinner: “Mom, Dad, I’m in trouble, and I would like to move back home.”

When my generation left home in the ’80s, we never even considered moving back. Today, it’s a different world. 

Census data from 2016 showed 36 percent of millennials are living at home. The reasons vary from not being able to start a career or find a job to being overwhelmed by student loan debt. When our kids want to move home, what can we do? What should we do?

How to Know When to Help

First, determine if there is a real need. Will saying no make them vulnerable? Will saying yes encourage idleness? These are the kinds of questions the early church wrestled with when determining a need. 

In 1 Timothy 5, Paul instructs Timothy in caring for elders and widows and calls upon the family first. 1 Timothy 5:8 says if we do not take care of family, it’s as if we are denying our faith. When someone in our family is in a vulnerable spot, we are to be the first to step in and help.  

The world may tell us to be tough and force our kids into the world but you know your kids best. Will moving home propel them forward or hold them back? Once you know the extent of the situation and  why they want to move home, act no further until you:

Ephesians 6:4 tells parents not to exasperate their children. The Message paraphrases it this way: “don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.” Who better than you to model Christ and His love for everyone, especially your children? 

 Of my two children, 100 percent moved back home at some point in their ’20s. The first one moved back just as the other was about to leave for college. The second one moved in after we were settled into our new empty nest home near Hilton Head.
At the time, I felt cheated. I was ready to live the life my husband and I planned. Extra money for trips. Running around the house naked — well, that may have been my husband’s dream. But in hindsight, allowing our kids to move home was the right thing for us to do. And I’m happy to say both of our children are now living independent adult lives. 

Five Topics to Consider Before They Move In

Here are five suggestions to help living together again go smoothly:

1. Treat your adult child as you would another adult.  

Remember, your child is an adult now, so treat him or her as you would another adult in need. Hebrews 13:16 says, “do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

We have been able to invite several people into our house when needs arise. From needing to move to better their life, to temporary stay until their housing was available, to helping a young adult escape a bad home life and better his. When we help the “stranger,” we help the family!

2. Make a clear plan for who’s responsible for what. 

There are many things to consider. Think about how you want to handle meals, chores, bills, and what’s appropriate when coming and going (Galatians 6:4-5).

When my daughter moved back, she was responsible for one meal a week and helping keep the house clean. For both children, we treated them as adults. We did not question where they were going or give curfews, but we expected communication if they were to be out extremely late or all night.

3. Consider rent. 

It doesn’t have to be much to give your child a sense of responsibility and to instill the discipline of paying living expenses month to month. You can even put away the rent you receive and surprise them with it when they move out. 

One of the reasons our son moved home was to pay off some debt. We held him accountable to doing that and did not charge rent. Once the bills were paid, we discussed a nominal rent amount. Coincidentally, he was out of the house a few months later. 

4. Help your child create a budget. 

This is a good time to begin learning to live on a budget if they haven’t already. A budget is simply a plan for your money. Help them create a budget while living with you as well as a future budget to strive for once they move out.

5. Have an exit plan. 

You both need to know when this arrangement will end. Just knowing this can relieve so much stress and pressure on both the parent and the child. 

As a parent, I needed to know when I was going to get my empty nest. As an adult child, my son needed to know what was expected and how much time he had to take his next step. For him, it was enough time to pay off debt and secure a good job.
Life is much different now than when I was a 20-something. Jobs may be a little harder to come by. The cost of living is certainly higher. Young adults are getting married later. All factors contributing to the desire to move home. 

If and when the time comes for you to make the hard decision, remember to pray, agree, plan, and exit. In return, may you have successful, thriving, 20-something children. 

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