This isn't the first time I've posted links to newspaper, magazine or blog items on how to handle a return to the nest. But it is the first time I've seen the topic covered at length by no less a media than the New York Times. In true Times tradition, "When Fledglings Return to the Nest" covers the basics thoroughly. Here are some highlights:
Should you take them in:"Given your own economic circumstances, you may not be able to afford another mouth to feed. But if forcing children to live on their own may lead to a bigger bailout later, it may not be economically smart. Besides, having kids at home again may help you save money."
Should they pay rent? The issue "isn’t so much whether you charge. It’s why the child has moved home in the first place." The anecdotes in the article suggest that if the children aren't slackers--are just in a tough financial spot right now--you might want to forgo rent or charge a token fee, one that rises with time until it's close to market rate. One parent put it this way: “I’m aware of the circumstances where within the family there’s the proverbial 35-year-old living at home How does it get to the point where the child didn’t decide to move on? The bond between child and parent is so strong, it was easier for us in the abstract to say that this was the program.”
If they pay rent, should you refund it when they move on? While some parents see the rent as a real contribution to the household, others "consider it a reward for good financial behavior, or a leg up on a future down payment."
Should you give them financial advice? Tread carefully here. Use other sources--books, articles--as a referral on the topic. One parent suggests this mantra: “When you have adult children, you cannot tell them what to do. You can only tell them what you’ll pay for. And if they don’t need you to pay for it, then you can only hope that they ask for your advice and take it.”
What if the stay is prolonged as a way for the child to save money for the future? "It may work best if the child works 80-hour weeks or travels constantly. It may help if the parents are gone most weekends, or if the child crashes at the home of a paramour frequently. It helps, too, to have no siblings underfoot and a bathroom (and better yet, an entrance) of one’s own. And, of course, the child needs to save the money as planned. If squabbles ensue, the child can always move out. But if everyone gets along, these children eventually move out with a big pile of money in the bank. And that safety net makes it more likely they will never again have to move back in with you."