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How to (gently) toss your boomerang kid
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"Parents are just not willing to experience their children eating ramen all week; they are not willing to have their children experience that level of discomfort. It's like, 'Oh, what's going to happen to them?' Well, what's going to happen to them is they will be motivated to work harder and get a better job so they don't have to eat ramen all week," says Anderegg.

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Hayden charged her boomerang daughter $300 a month rent; if it was late, a $50 penalty would apply. She required her daughter to carry her own health insurance and car insurance -- no going back on Mom and Dad's policy. She also had a list of tasks around the house.

In two years, her daughter not only met her commitments, but she also audited Hayden's money management classes, socked away 5 percent of her income into a 403(b) account and decided on a new career path.

The amount of rent to charge varies by circumstances, of course. Since her daughter was working full time, Hayden chose to charge roughly what her daughter might expect to pay as her share for an apartment with roommates. Ask your child what he thinks his rent should be: It's a good way to open a broader dialogue about money management.

"The rent is usually not market value, unless you really want to get the kid out of there," she says. "I have one mother who is charging her son $150. Well, that's barely a night out on the town. He needs to feel that there is some pressure on him, because that is what an adult has. The goal of all parents is to get their kids to be independent."

If you don't need the rent money, charge it anyway and sock it away into a savings vehicle that can be a surprise going-away present.

Tax tip: If you are divorced or widowed and your boomeranger is home for an extended period, you may be able to claim a larger standard deduction and lower your tax rate by filing as head of household on your income-tax return.

Included in the ground rules should be goals geared around a time horizon of moving out three weeks, three months, a year, whatever. Set the target date, then determine the incremental steps toward meeting it. How long will your boarder look for the perfect job before seeking an interim position? What means will you have to determine the progress (or lack of) toward the goal?

It should not go unspoken that your child now resides as an adult guest in your home and will be expected to behave accordingly. Clearly lay down the responsibilities and boundaries. Your lifestyle should not suffer because of your guest: If you disapprove of friends or late-night activities, make clear that the friends or activities are not welcome in your home.

"If you really want to get some momentum going, insist that your bedtime be their curfew," Hayden says.

"I help my clients come up with a plan based on the personality of their child so that my client also feels like a good parent, because that's the bottom line. And it's pretty successful. The kid either leaves right away a little outraged, is asked to leave because he or she won't do it, or they do it and they start to grow up a little bit. It's all about teaching them about real life."

Better them than you
They call it "tough love" for a reason. But parents who take in a boomerang kid at any cost may be putting their own retirement or the care of their parents at risk.

"I do think we have a crisis of care giving in our society," says Mintz. "I think there is a lot of stress on aging boomers who have to worry both ways, about young and old."

Want to get really creative? Have your boomerang kid move in with her grandparents, the way it was typically done in generations past.

It may help to keep the ultimate goal firmly in mind as you wrestle with the ties that bind and sometimes strangle.

"Most young people who live with their parents after college feel guilty and embarrassed about it; they don't feel happy or proud that they're putting one over on the parents," says Anderegg. "There is a tremendous psychological boost to know that you're paying your own bills. That's what it means to be an adult. It's important for parents to remember that being independent feels good."

Editorial assistant Leslie Hunt contributed to this story.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Updated: March 20, 2006
 
 
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