According to the 2017 Census Bureau report, 16% of Millennials, aged 25-34 are living in their parents’ home. An all-time high. Interestingly, men ages 25-34 are 57% more likely than women of the same age to be living in their parents’ house. That may be because the median age at which men are first married increased to 29.5, with women's median age rising to 27.4. Back when I graduated from high school in the early '80s, getting married right out of high school or college was the norm. In fact, if you were unmarried at 25, it was downright odd. This report came out two years ago and given what I hear from my friends with adult children; I’d wager the number has risen.
There are many different reasons your kids might still be living at home or have recently returned. One of mine wanted to save up for a house; another wanted to come home until he had a better paying job. The third just hasn’t left yet. Money seems to be a big factor. The millennial unemployment rate stands at an unfortunate 12.8 percent, compared to the national average of 4.9 percent. There is a fantastic article on The Atlantic website that talks about the difficulties millennials are having finding employment, and even Gen Xers and Baby Boomers agree.
Overall, fully 78 percent of adults agreed that "compared to earlier generations … it is currently harder" for young people today "to get started in life." Just 16 percent of those surveyed thought it was easier for young people to get started today.
That may be due to a lack of affordable housing, inability to find steady jobs that pay well, the growing requirement to possess a post-graduate degree to be a desirable job candidate, and the faceless job application process. Years ago, you could walk into a place of business that was looking to hire, meet the manager, shake hands with the owner and establish a connection. With rare exceptions, the application process has been completely dehumanized. The majority of business will only allow online applications via their company websites or online employment boards. Instead of being one of maybe 20 applicants who took the time to enter the place of business in person, nowadays you are an electronic file among hundreds, if not thousands, of other electronic files. It’s all about the resume, not the person behind the resume. It’s all about keywords and pivot charts. If you don’t look good on paper, you have almost no shot at even being considered for the job. My point is, I agree. I believe it is harder to get ahead in 2019 than it was in 1989.
But just because I can empathize and understand the difficulties, doesn’t mean I want my sons living with me until they’re 40. At some point, they need to go out and face the challenges of budgeting, doing without, scrimping, saving, eating ramen three times a week and saying no to dinners out with friends and nightclubbing. I can understand the desire to want all of my income to be “disposable,” but it just isn’t reality.
One of the ways we were able to cope with our adult children living in the house was to establish some rules. Some of these we were great at enforcing, some we were laxer with, and others are rules we wish we had implemented but didn’t. The most important rule is to make sure you verbalize these with your kids, don’t assume they’ll figure them out. And bring up issues as they occur. Don’t let them fester until you're left with nothing but resentment and contempt. You don’t want to ruin your relationship with your adult children, but you do need to set clear boundaries.
RULE #1 - YOU NEED TO ASK ME TO LIVE HERE AGAIN
Adult children who have moved out shouldn’t assume that moving back in is a given. They need to recognize that moving back in with you might be an inconvenience, and it could mean you'll need to sacrifice some plans. Like turning that bedroom into a media room, or den, or home gym, or just enjoying being alone.
RULE #2 - MAKE SURE THEY UNDERSTAND THE VALUE OF WHAT YOU ARE PROVIDING
If your kids have moved out at some point, they probably have a better idea of just what it costs to feed and house yourself. If they haven’t moved out, they likely have no idea. Let them know! Ask them to pay the electric bill just once, and they’ll get a good idea of what it costs to keep the lights on and the Xbox running!
RULE #3 - RESIST THE URGE TO PARENT
Yup, they are living under your roof just like they did when they were younger, but it’s different now. You're not doing them any favors by solving their problems, or picking up after them, or not letting them live an adult life. Except for being courteous and letting you know if they won’t be home that night/weekend, etc. let them live as if they were on their own. It’ll help when the time comes to boot them out.
RULE #4 - DON’T FALL INTO OLD HABITS
Don’t do their laundry, or clean their room, or make their dinner every night, or resupply their dandruff shampoo. They are, after all, adults and hopefully employed. They need to treat your home as if you are their landlord, not their parents.
RULE #5 - HAVE SEPARATE PANTRIES
We have sons. Three of them. It’s just a fact that boys eat a lot, even as adults. I don’t know why we didn’t think of this until after they boomeranged back out, but having them supply their own pantry would have saved us thousands and made them realize just how much food costs! I should have invited them to dinner a couple of times a week to share food that we bought and I prepared, but then let them raid their own pantry the rest of the time.
RULE #6 - SET A TIMELINE
Whether that be “until you’ve saved up for a deposit” or “until you’ve found a better job” or “6 months”, be sure they know that living back at home (or still) has an expiration date. Sit down as often as needed to amend the move out date, but make it clear that there is one.