Boomerang Kids Returning to Parents in May Need Ground Rules


’Boomerang’ kids typically raise a host of financial and family issues. That’s why open communication and setting some basic ground rules are important.

Open Up Communication, Encourage Good Money Habits

Many young grads will move back in with their parents after receiving their degree in May. It’s often not easy on either party. ’Boomerang’ kids typically raise a host of financial and family issues. That’s why open communication and setting some basic ground rules are important. Boomerang kids can be adult children of any age who return home because of job loss, divorce, or various other difficulties.

Depending on your relationship with your child, how long they’ve been away, and the reason for the move, your child’s return home may be more or less bumpy. You and your child have both gotten used to some level of independence. You may be torn between feeling supportive and worrying about enabling bad behavior. Discuss your rules and expectations with your child when he or she first returns to the nest. Better yet, do it during the planning stages ahead of the move back to minimize potential conflicts.

Your conditions for their living at home might include maintaining or actively seeking employment, paying rent, or helping out with a certain amount of house or yard work. For a younger adult child, it may be necessary to establish guidelines about alcohol use, smoking, and overnight guests. Be sure to discuss how long your child expects to stay.

Check Your Budget

Reevaluate your own finances when your adult child moves back in. How will having an additional person eating groceries, consuming utilities, and perhaps driving your vehicle impact your cash flow?

Don’t let yourself get into financial trouble because you failed to reassess your own budget while helping your child. This holds true for all sorts of gifts, but it can be harder to say no when you share a living space and witness your child’s struggles firsthand.

If your child has a job, strongly consider charging rent. That will help them responsibly manage their money. If you don’t need the money, you can place it in an account that can be used for your child’s future needs.

Build Good Money Habits

When a child moves in, you have a unique opportunity to enforce good financial habits. Encourage your adult child to save, especially if you’re not charging rent because of student debt payments or other reasons. This will give them an emergency fund, a nest egg for when they eventually do move out, or a resource for paying down student debt sooner.

If your child is employed and his or her employer offers a 401(k) plan, talk to your child about why it’s a good idea to participate. If his or her employer doesn’t offer such a plan, mention and perhaps help your child to set up a traditional or Roth IRA.

Even if your children can only save a little, you can help them establish good saving habits that will serve them well later in life.

Your adult children’s choices are largely their own, and while the home is yours, avoid trying to actively parent them the way you did when they were minors or teenagers. Don’t demand to know where they are at all times or try to make them ask your permission to come and go. Ground rules that are reasonable will be much less likely to cause strife.

You will need to respect their independence and their choices, but they also need to respect your home. It will be easier for you both to have a conversation up front, calmly and in the abstract, rather than in a heated confrontation later, when competing expectations collide. Your child has changed since he or she moved out and so have you. It is a relationship you will both need to actively navigate.

Whatever rules you and your child agree on, be sure to treat him or her as an adult.

Shomari Hearn, Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), is vice president of Palisades Hudson Financial Group, based in its Fort Lauderdale, Florida, office. He co-wrote the chapter on managing relationships with adult children are in Palisades Hudson’s recent book, “Looking Ahead: Life, Family, Wealth and Business After 55.”

Palisades Hudson ( is a fee-only financial planning firm and investment manager based in Scarsdale, N.Y., with more than $1.1 billion under management. Branch offices are in Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Portland, Oregon. Read Palisades Hudson’s daily column on personal finance, economics and other topics at Twitter: @palisadeshudson. Contact: Henry Stimpson, Stimpson Communications, 508-647-0705,

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