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They’re Back! Setting Guidelines for Returning Kids

Joined: 11/9/2011
Posts: 23
I dropped out of college and moved back in with my parents. I mainly did it before I flunked out. Somehow, I missed the equation – waiting tables in a bar + 8:00 a.m. classes = bad grades. I’m grateful that my parents were willing to let me crash there for a while. But it was an adjustment for all of us. They had taken to that empty nest thing really quickly. Although the combination of inter-generational cohabiting and my job at a gas-and-go store reignited my educational passion and I headed back to school, I’m grateful my parents let me have that time.

Moving Back in to Save Money

With today’s economy, there’s an entirely different “move back in with the folks” demographic – kids who can’t find a job after graduating, lost a job or are dealing with other life circumstances affecting finances. A poll in 2011 by the National Endowment for Financial Education found that 40 percent of U.S. adults ages 18 to 39 who are not students currently live at home with their parents, or have in the recent past.

With many of those parents unemployed or underemployed, that becomes a heavily financially burdened household. Parents naturally want to help their kids, especially if they sprang for a pricey college degree, but at what cost? I imagine quite a few of these parents are dipping into their savings or retirement to facilitate this support.

Emotional Factors

I remember when I dropped out, one day my mother asked me in an exasperated tone, “So what did you do all day?” Well, I baked a couple pies and watched 1940’s movies on TV; to me, that was a good day. Hey, I needed a break. But now I can see why parents would get frustrated with what they perceive as lack of effort on their kid’s part to find work.

Besides frustration, I suspect there’s also worry, fear, anger and a fair amount of stress for all concerned. What about the abrupt changes that parents have to adapt to in order to accommodate the returning kids? Maybe they’ve been considering their own move to a retirement area or starting a new life. Having to postpone that is disappointing.


Being open about all those feelings flying around and getting real about goals is a healthy way to survive this situation. Here are a few suggestions:

Set limits – On both sides. It’s reasonable to expect your kid to be home before 4 a.m. But it’s also O.K. to ask your parents to respect your independence (sic).

Timeline – Make sure everyone is clear about the duration of this status. When will they move out? Three months? Six months?

Financial contributions – If I can work at a gas-and-go, so can your kid. Yes, the money’s terrible and it doesn’t utilize that philosophy BA, but they need to contribute to the household in some way. If they have zero money, running household errands, cleaning and helping out will lighten the load.

Be nice – Look at this as a chance to spend some time together that may (hopefully) never happen again!
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