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Crowded Nest Syndrome: How To Manage Retirement With Adult Children At Home

04/21/2014 01:48 EDT | Updated 04/21/2014 02:59 EDT
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Long gone are the days when your children living with you held a clear expiry date. These days, it’s become just as common for young adults and grown adults to move back into the family home due to any number of reasons. But don’t let your returning adult children affect your post-retirement life at home! It may be a daunting task, but welcoming your adult children back into your abode can go smoother than you think. Here are some simple tips to keep in mind as you go forward with all your little birds back in the nest:

Crowded Nest Syndrome: How To Manage Retirement With Adult Children At Home

1. Maintain a balanced environment

As long as your adult children are sharing your home, you are bound to have complications. You will have arguments. Sometimes lines will be crossed, and there will be hurt feelings. Never allow these bad feelings to fester, but rather get them out in the open. Create a good environment where you and your adult children can argue in a healthy way, rather than belittling each other. At the same time, do take advantage of your own freedom. You’ve earned your retirement; don’t let your feelings of guilt override your own needs and expectations. The key here is balance, as challenging as that can be to achieve.

2. Figure out your finances

Remember, this isn’t the same sweet 8-year-old who had to have his shirts picked out and snacks fixed for him. This is your adult child, who is old enough to ostensibly hold down a paying job. Sit down with them and discuss how you will be dividing household expenses. Will they pitch in for various utilities? How about groceries and rent? These are all things that can add up to quite a pretty penny. Money is always a touchy subject when involving family, especially when you feel like you’re asking your own children for cold cash. But the earlier you line up your finances in order, the transition process will be smoother for everyone involved and you won’t find yourself squabbling over the absurdly high internet bill.

3. Determine house rules

Even though you are now essentially roommates with your children, your house is still your own. Lay down firm rules for your adult children regarding house guests, visitors, and friends. Your children should respect the fact that this is your space, first and foremost. At the same time, keep in mind that your adult children are still entitled to their own privacy. Don’t feel entitled to enter their room, go through their clothes, and read their diary anytime you feel fit. Boundaries must be enforced on both sides of this agreement, but it’s for everyone’s sake.

4. Consider your children’s feelings

Moving back into a parent’s home after a failed attempt at living independently isn’t a proud moment for young adults, let alone fully grown adults. As of 2010, at least 1 out of 3 young adults aged 20 to 29 live in their parents’ homes. Although unemployment rates are slowly getting better nationwide, employment for men between the ages of 25 to 54 is still on the decline. The current state of the economy is already a punch in the guts to many adults and young adults alike, pushing back what would have been major milestones -- purchasing a car, a home, paying off loans -- and no one feels it worse than they do. On that note…

5. Support their independence

Yes, yes, we know; in many countries around the world, grown adults living with their families -- some even after marriage! -- is a very common and accepted norm. But becoming independent is a rite of passage and something that every well-meaning adult should strive to achieve. Standing on your own two feet takes a lot of effort, finances, and support. Create an action plan with your adult children. Lay down timelines for how much they expect to save while living at home, and set a projected time where they will be expected to take flight from your nest. After all, you don’t want your adult children to live with you forever, do you?