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How to cope when adult children return home

How do you set the boundaries for returning adult children? Read our guide to find out.

How to cope when adult children move home

To have an adult child move back into the family home can be a big adjustment both for them and you, but as long as you lay a few ground rules you can make the best of the situation – and may even enjoy it!

Be accommodating

You will all have your own routines so it’s important you try and make them work together. Organise things so that there isn’t a queue for the bathroom or the need to constantly shuffle cars around and you'll have a much happier household.

A clean sweep

A house doesn't run itself and you'll soon resent running yourself ragged with extra washing and cleaning if you don't get everyone to pitch in and do their fair share. If the offer of assistance isn't forthcoming, make sure you ask them to help out and set a rota if necessary. Maximise on their skills – would they be happier in the kitchen or mowing the lawn?

Paying their way

It is important to have this set in stone right from the start. If adult children are moving home due to financial hardship you will obviously want to help them out but you also need to consider the additional expenses you'll potentially need to pay.

Why not consider some of these options?

  • Charge them rent based on a percentage of their income – a low rate of 10% would allow them to put a further 20% into savings or help them pay off loans.
  • Charge them a flat rate to help cover your expenses.
  • Charge them rent but discreetly put some aside to give to them when they move out.

If they are unable to contribute to bills or rent, ensure they earn their keep in other ways, perhaps by helping with household chores.

The ground rules

It's unrealistic to set curfews for a fully-grown adult, but it is important to discuss and agree on a set of rules, particularly when it comes to late nights and overnight guests. Be clear from the start what you will and won't allow, preventing any uncomfortable moments later on!


Whether it's feeling taken for granted, spending one too many nights ironing or finding the fridge empty, don't allow your irritation to fester. If something's bothering you make sure you discuss it with your child.

...and don't feel to blame

When an adult child returns home it's natural to think you've somehow failed them, but the reality is you are in no way to blame. The financial climate, cost of renting or buying a house and the level of student debt has had a huge impact. Take comfort from knowing they have come to you for support during a difficult time and from knowing yours is just one of many thousands of households that is enjoying the return of their brood.


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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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