What Happens When Your Adult Child Crash Lands Back Into Your Empty Nest?
You have just started to get used to the sounds of silence in your house. No more tripping over a gaggle of sleeping teenage boys who have kept you awake all night with loud laughter, music and midnight snacks. No more piles of dirty clothes stacked in front of the washing machine and a son or daughter waiting for them to re-appear clean and folded.
You are sitting quietly in your cosy and organized empty nest, enjoying the solitude and freedom of life after children. You are satisfied – even a little relieved – that you survived the chaos of raising kids and are now planning travel to one of your bucket list destinations.
This next phase of your life is focused (selfishly, you think, at first) on your passions and interests is coming into focus. Now you can actually enjoy drinking a cup of hot tea before it gets cold.
Perhaps you look forward to rekindling your relationship with your partner. Or, maybe it’s your friends that you miss the most. Either way, now, it’s time to get back to you.
Life is good.
Your Adult Child Crash Lands Back Into Your Empty Next
Then, suddenly, something unexpected happens. The door crashes open and your 30-something child comes flying back into your nest.
With stories of financial difficulties, lack of employment opportunities, medical issues, relationship problems and, in some cases, a baby your not-so-baby-bird announces their arrival.
This is not a criticism of our boomerang kids, by the way. Times are genuinely tough for many millennials.
College graduates may have all the qualifications, but, no way to apply those skills. In addition, housing costs and low wages are creating a real struggle with young people. And, let’s not even get started on how much student debt our kids have!
But, regardless of the reasons, more of our kids than ever are crash landing back into the nest.
Dealing with Feelings of Guilt
With adult children back in your home, the predictable and smooth rhythm of your new life is tipped upside down! You feel out of control – even a little angry!
You may even feel guilty that you are not all that happy to see your children reappear on your doorstep.
It’s a confusing time for everyone involved! No matter what else you feel, don’t be too hard on yourself. You have every right to be conflicted.
Besides, the statistics say that the stress is not just in your head.
According to a recent study by the London School of Economics, adult children who return to the family home after time away, cause a significant decline in their parents’ quality of life.
Getting Used to a Full House – and Finding a Silver Lining
The adjustment period might be a few weeks… or considerably longer. At first glance, there seems to be more downside than upside in having adult kids back in your home.
But, this is not the first time in history that extended families have found it necessary to live together. In places like India, it is the norm for people from multi generations to live under one roof.
In many ways, it reminds us of the important things in life. Yes, we can’t pursue all those exotic travel plans. And, yes, we must, once again, queue again for the bathroom!
However, parents who welcome their adult kids back into their homes are doing something fundamentally important. They are protecting their family and helping their children to grow into strong and responsible human beings.
That said, most people argue that this kind of an arrangement must be clearly defined and not extended any longer than absolutely necessary. I totally agree.
Tough Love or Loving Kindness?
Are their situations where it is not appropriate for an adult child to return home? Absolutely. Sometimes tough love is more helpful in the long-term than blind faith. But, the only person who can make this decision is you!
Don’t listen to your friends or neighbors. They can’t possibly understand your situation. Follow your heart, but, make sure that you keep your head engaged!
After all, we all have an instinct to product our children. But, it is not always clear how to balance short-term happiness and long-term fulfilment. Hang in their mama! You’re doing great!
What would you do if your adult child asked to move back in with you? How would you determine how long they could stay? Would you apply any conditions to their moving back in with you? Which ones? Let’s have a chat!