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Living with boomerang kids
Several forces are driving young college grads to move back home. Set them straight at the outset.
Families and finances

6 tips for living with your adult child

Much to the chagrin of today's parents, adult children are moving back home in droves.

They're called "boomerang kids," and unlike their free-spirited counterparts of the 1960s, they tend to be more closely tethered to their parents.

The culprits: mounting credit card and student loan debt. Add the high cost of living in some areas, and you have three compelling reasons why boomerang kids are flying back to the nest.

Talking points
  1. Discuss expectations.
  2. Set ground rules and time limits.
  3. Avoid being an enabler.
  4. Share household costs or chores.
  5. Prepare for money requests.
  6. Compel child to start saving.
A couple of generations ago, things were different. Adult children who didn't go on to college either got jobs or started families.

"In the baby boomer era of the 1950s and 1960s, adult children got married at a younger age," says Rick Staszak, a certified estate planner and registered financial consultant with Financial Network Investment Corp. in Pittsburgh. "They lived with the parents or in-laws for a year and saved money to put down on a home."

Decades later, college graduates are concerned that today's entry-level salaries are inadequate to support their lifestyles. So they put off moving out and raising families for longer periods of time.

More than three-quarters of college graduates in 2008 said they planned to move back home with their parents, up from two-thirds in 2006, according to

"To a certain extent, it's a sign of the economy," says Certified Financial Planner Craig Skeels of Apex Wealth Management Group in Oxnard, Calif. "If it continues to be a prolonged recession with more cuts in jobs, we may see a lot more adult children moving back home than what we're experiencing today."

About 6.3 million adults age 18 to 24 lived at home in 1960, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That number more than doubled to almost 15 million by 2008.

With so much of adult children's baggage consisting of IOUs, parents are struggling to help their children financially without jeopardizing their own retirements. They can smooth the transition by establishing clear communication lines and setting a few ground rules before boomerang children move back in.

Discuss expectations
Open lines of communication will likely go a long way with your adult children, says Ruth Nemzoff, author of "Don't Bite Your Tongue: How to Foster Rewarding Relationships With Your Adult Children."

"Talking about the move back home is an opportunity to share the changes you've undergone since your child moved out," she says. "It's also an opportunity to learn about the changes your child has undergone."

Nemzoff, who holds a doctorate degree in social policy from Harvard University and raised four children, says relationships with adult children are always evolving. Therefore, maintaining open dialogue will lessen the chance of misunderstandings.

"I think we can all learn from each other, but it takes forgiving of ourselves and our children and many discussions about how we each want to live our lives," she says.

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