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Managing Your Household
When an Adult Child Lives at Home

By Chris Theisen

adult child at home.jpg

As middle-aged parents of adult children, we all hope (and expect) that our adult children will grow into fully-functioning, independent individuals.  But what happens when they can’t quite make end meet on their own?  What happens when your adult child moves back home?


It could be because of divorce, job loss, financial difficulties, or simply because he or she never thrived on his or her own.  Whatever the case, “returning to the nest” is never an easy circumstance to have to deal with – for the parents and for the adult child.


With that being said, here are a few tips for parents with an adult child living at home:

1.  Remember that YOU are doing a FAVOR for your adult child by allowing him or her to live at home and there is no reason why you should allow it to disrupt your or to put you in financial distress.

2.  Insist that your adult child be a productive member of the household.  This means that he or she helps around the house and follows any and all of the rules and expectations set forth by YOU.

3.  Take a hard-lined stance when it comes to disrespectful language and/or behavior in your home.  Remind your adult child that the living arrangement is a privilege and that disrespect will essentially remove that privilege.

4.  Maintain firm boundaries.  Avoid meddling in your adult child’s life – unless a safety issue is at hand.

5.  Have some sort of “plan” in place regarding your adult child’s return to “independent living.”  This is something that should be addressed almost immediately after he or she moves back to the nest.

6.  Avoid “enabling” behaviors - which ultimately do more damage to your adult child than if you were to NOT engage in those behaviors.  Ignoring (or even supporting) a substance abuse problem can have catastrophic consequences.  Are you babysitting for your adult child while he or she is out at the bar getting inebriated?  If so, then you are enabling.  Are you “picking up some beer” for your alcoholic son on your way home from running errands?  If so, then you are enabling.

7.  Be supportive and provide encouragement to your adult child.  You have more life experiences and your advice could do wonders for your adult child still living at home.

8.  Create and enforce a behavior contract that addresses all of the conditions and circumstances related to having an adult child living a home.  You can find a pre-written, downloadable contract at  This behavior contract addresses most, if not all, of the issues that arise by having an adult child living at home.  It also saves you the time and effort of having to create one on your own.


The above list is by no means a comprehensive one – but it will hopefully help to establish a good foundation for parents (like you) who are co-habitating with their adult child.  You’ve got this!

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