Tips for living with your adult offspring

Updated: 

TONY AVELAR/AP

As the recession continues to bite, more and more young adults are staying put with their parents or returning to the family home after time away at university.

While many parents are happy to assist their offspring, where do you draw the line between help and hand-outs? Follow our guide to smooth the way for a harmonious relationship with cohabiting adult children.

With spiralling graduate debt, a tough job market and an even tougher leap onto the property ladder, it is little surprise that the 'boomerang' generation has grown in prominence in recent years.

Yet while being able to return to the family home is a valuable lifeline for many young people trying to get back on their feet, evidence suggests that a large proportion are taking advantage of their parents' willingness to help.


Nearly two thirds (62%) of Brits with adult children said that their offspring still rely on them for help with everyday tasks, according to research by Churchill Home Insurance. Many admitted to helping their twenty and thirty-something children with washing, cooking and cleaning, in addition to making appointments and ferrying them around with lifts.

But it is financial reliance that is most prolific, with nearly half (44%) of under 40s admitting that they have received financial contributions from their parents in the past 12 months, totalling an average of £1,800 a year.

Christine Webber, psychotherapist and author of Too Young to Get Old: The baby boomers' guide to living life to the full, comments: "The oldest of the baby boomers were born into the harsh austerity of the post-war years. Once they became parents themselves, they vowed to be much more 'in tune' with their kids and more affirming and helpful and often devoted themselves to smoothing their way through the world.

"But now we have a situation where they are heavily subsidising their grown-up offspring, both in terms of time and money. Indeed many mid-lifers remark that when they go out on family outings it never seems to occur to their children - who are often in their 30s or 40s - to pay for anything. And though they realise that today's young adults need financial help and other types of assistance too, trouble can arise when they feel that they are taken for granted."

Set boundaries
In an ideal situation, sit down for a talk with your children as soon as they move back, otherwise arrange a time as soon as possible. Having an open discussion about living arrangements will avoid misunderstandings, reduce tension and resentment, and set ground rules for behaviour in the home.

Talk about guidelines for having friends over, cooking meals, cleaning, chores and any other issues that are likely to arise, such as partners staying over, giving lifts and arriving home late at night.

Talk money
If your child is working, it is perfectly reasonable to ask them to pay rent. More than 60% of parents charge their adult children rent, according to a survey by MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, with more a third of those just having started to ask for payment during 2011 because they needed further support following the recession and rising inflation.

Talk about other financial factors too, such as dividing utility bills and shopping for groceries. Remember that if your child is not working, you may be entitled to a reduction in council tax through the Second Adult Rebate. The up to 25% discount applies if you share your home with someone (not your partner) who is over the age of 18 and not paying rent, due to being on a low income or in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance.

Set a time frame
Discussing how long your child can remain living at home from the outset is a good idea to avoid disputes or misunderstanding later on. If you agree to allow your child to stay until they find a job and get back on their feet, figure out what that's going to take.

Likewise, if the goal is for them to save for a deposit to buy their first home, work out a sum with the timescale and saving strategy required to reach it. With the comfort and lack of responsibility of living at home, many young adults don't have the incentive to save and move out. Making it clear that the invitation to stay in your home is temporary and reviewing their progress, say every month, should keep them of track to gaining their independence.

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