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Corona Virus and work shut downs have created several problems for families. Many parents who were empty nesters have found their adult children back home due to forced unemployment and financial uncertainty. Many parents who were planning for their retirement years are now trying to scramble to find additional resources on a fixed income in order to support their adult children and in many cases their grandchildren as well. Everyone is stressed with trying to adjust to reverting back to living under their parent's roof and living by their rules. This can create additional problems for adult children who lived on their own and who no longer want to be treated like a child. Conversely, they also find themselves being dependent again on their parents for financial assistance. This can create a challenging dynamic as parents feel their adult children receive all the benefits but take advantage of the situation by being disrespectful. Parents feel trapped between their desire to help and damaging their relationship with their adult children who only see life from their perspective.

The Problem:

The child has been raised to the best of your ability as a parent. Maybe they left your home during a time of conflict. Maybe those family conflicts continued as the child grew into adulthood and independence. They married, or began a family. Conflict continues and they stop talking to you. Then suddenly you get a phone call out of the blue. They need help and you are the "only one" who can help them. So you take them back into your calm quiet surroundings that you and your spouse have enjoyed for years. Now you wake to children banging toys and their parent's screaming for them to be quiet. You have tried to discuss a limit to when your child and his/her family will move out, but Corona Virus concerns continue to prevent your child from going back to work. They are spending all their money and not saving anything for their future. You feel trapped, used, and without any options.

A Solution:

Often parents reach a point of anger and resentment toward their children because they don't know how to establish and maintain new expectations. They may have created a plan and even picked a move out date, but when the local government continues to shut down the economy your plans fly out the window and a sense of hopelessness can set in. One way to address this problem is by creating a list of short term measurable goals and objectives.

When I'm talking with the Adult Child I ask them if they are a "liability" to their parents or do they bring "value added" through making their stay beneficial to their parents. Many adult children want to be dependent and independent at the same time. They want the ability to come and go when they want and have unrestricted control to make their own decisions no matter how it impacts their parents. Yet, they need their parent's income and support (free babysitting) so they can have that freedom. Parents feel conflicted and eventually see their only way out is to literally push their adult children out of the nest. Instead try these things:

1. What is a reasonable length of time for your adult child (and his family) to gain (or regain) independence? This can be months to years depending on your individual circumstances. This is where the discussion begins.

2. How much money should be set aside in order to make their leaving possible? Have them pay you a portion of their income (50% is what I think is fair) and you set that money aside (if you don't need it) as a savings account for them. Then when they reach the predetermined amount of money (usually 3 months worth of housing, expenses, and food) they will be more sucessful as they step out toward self-reliance. Help them create a budget ( offers a free budgeting tool.

3. If you have an unemployed adult living in your home there are many things they can do to prepare for leaving the nest: They can determine what career path they want to pursue. They can create a resume that reflects that pathway and their journey toward their goals. If they find they have no pathway, they can use this time to volunteer and acquire skills and experience that can support their desired pathway and add to their resume as "experience."

4. They can give you sweat-equity. Some adult children have the ability to do chores around the house (paint, clean gutters, lay tile, etc) that older parents don't have the ability to do on their own.

5. Give more than you take. Give love, hope, encouragment, and help. Be the blessing don't just be blessed.

Once you establish the ground rules and expectations it is easier to set boundaries for failure to adhere to their agreement or rewards for brining value to the situation. It's not easy for anyone to retest, but if you know what to expect you can can hope for a better outcome. In life, no two journeys are the same. Create your own journey to success.


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