How to Cope when the Baby Boomers Come Back Home: A Tanking Economy Sends More Adult Children Back to the Nest

NBC’s Today Show used the term “Boomerang Boomers” on its February 21st morning broadcast to describe a new trend: adult children – some as old as middle age – who are moving back home with their parents.

In the past, many parents moved into their children’s homes as they got older because they needed the help. Now, with a struggling economy, the situation is reversing itself as these “children” struggle to survive.

The show profiled an Arizona couple who went from a combined income of over $500,000 a year to dual unemployment. The couple and their two dogs were soon forced to move out of their 5000-sq. foot house and into one of their parents’ 1400-sq. foot house.

They thought it would last a few months…but it’s already been a year.

An Increasing Trend

It can be typical for young adults in their 20s to head home after college, often looking to get that first job and save on rent money while they boost their savings accounts before heading out on their own. But what ‘s happening now is not just the 20-somethings moving back with Mom and Dad, but the 40-somethings.

How to Cope Emotionally

And while foreclosures and job loss aren’t desirable situations, experts say with the right tools, people can turn such a move into a positive, or at least tolerable, situation.

Dr. Argie Allen, a relationship therapist who appeared after the Today Shows story, says that privacy and communication are two issues with potential to make a move like this one really hard.

She advises families talk about their expectations and assumptions before the moving truck even arrives. It’s important to ask before doing anything that could disrupt another family member’s routine.

Allen also advocates setting rules and regulations beforehand and having regular family meetings to have discussions in order to avoid potential problems on the front end, because otherwise “they can come around and bite you in the back end.”

How to Cope Financially

Jenn Braunschweiger of financially-centered magazine More expects the trend to continue. In 2000, there were five million multigenerational homes in the U.S. In 2010, that number had jumped to 6.2 million.

Braunschweiger says that people who move in with others to save money must contribute in some way. If their situation prevents them from doing so financially, they can contribute by helping with chores or doing work the homeowners previously paid for, such as oil changes or lawn mowing.

It is also imperative that parents do not jeopardize their own retirement while helping their children pick up and start over. Helping is a good thing, but it becomes detrimental to everyone if retirees are losing their savings.

Turn It Into a Positive

Finally, both Braunschweiger and Allen pointed out that the situation can have a lot of unexpected positives. Both women say more time spent with family can create generational bonds that might not have otherwise been able to form. Family history and traditions can be passed down much easier, too. And from a financial standpoint, it can be a great help for older people to have extra money to help with the mortgage or utilities, or to get some work done around the house.


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