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Boomerang children

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

No sooner have you waved a tearful goodbye to your grown up kids then they’re back living with you.

Many adult children who left home years ago to go travelling, start a job or go to college are back living under mum and dad’s roof.

Relationship breakups, student debt and high unemployment coupled with high rents and property prices mean there may be no choice but to head back to the family home.

One in four lives at home

It’s not just a few people, literally millions of people in their twenties and thirties live at home.

More than a quarter of 22 to 30 year olds were still living at home from 2011 to 2013 according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

The Office for National Statistics estimates that nearly 3 million adults aged 20-34 lived with their parents in 2011.

Different reactions

Parents may welcome back their offspring with open arms and relish the chance to spend more time with them as adults.

"Lots of parents find that the house swings back into life with new energy," says parenting expert and author Karen Doherty. "Their children can have lots of interesting friends doing interesting things, and parents can find it very entertaining and be glad to be a part of it."

Or mum and dad may have got used to a quieter life, have new routines and interests and enjoy one on one time with each other so may not be 100% happy with the new arrangement. That in itself is sometimes hard for a parent to admit.

"When older kids return to what was once an empty nest, which has been happening with increasing regularity for at least 5 years, most parents are more confused than resentful," says Sally Koslow, author of Slouching Toward Adulthood.

Add to the mix the fact that many adult children bring their girlfriend or boyfriend back too - it can be easy for frustrations to build up.

There are bound to be mixed emotions on both sides when adult children start living at home again but with a bit of forethought and a few ground rules it can work.

Treat each other as adults

It’s not hard to slip back into the parent-child roles. Your helpful suggestions can be mistaken for nagging and could lead to the return of a petulant teenager.

"It’s easy for both to fall back into old patterns, of caring parent and dependent child – and that can often translate into meddling parent and selfish child," says agony aunt and author Suzie Hayman.

Try to look at your adult child in a fresh light to foster a more equal, mature relationship.

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