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Bounce Back Kids: Navigating Living With An Adult Child

Bounce back kids can arrive unexpectedly throughout their early adulthood. With these boundaries in place, it can be a wonderful time of bonding and growth.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

“Mom, I’m moving back home,” said my bounce back kid. “Can I stay with you while I get sorted and settled?”

A few years earlier, I moved my daughter across the nation to attend college. Between choices and circumstances, the results had become concerning. In the process of booking a flight to do an intervention, this call saved me the trip.

My next call was to my mentor. This transition would require wise navigation and I needed help to set healthy and nurturing boundaries. We would be living in the same home but our relationship had changed. We were no longer parent and child, but adults together.

“Overall, 39 percent of all adults ages 18 to 34 say they either live with their parents now or moved back in temporarily in recent years,” reports Pew Research. “Among 18- to 24-year-olds more than half (53 percent) live at home or moved in for a time during the past few years. Among adults ages 25 to 29, 41 percent live with or moved back in with their parents, and among those ages 30 to 34, 17 percent fall into this category.”

Bounce Back Kids

Bounce back kids come in all types of circumstances, some requiring more stringent agreements than others. For the adult kid who came home for the summer after college graduation before moving to another state to begin her job, there were few guidelines.

The dates of arrival and departure were already set. The attitude of the adult child was upbeat, respectful of home and family. Everyone felt eager to enjoy time together before the next transition.

For the bounce back kid who came home with a different attitude, a contract clearly designated acceptable behavior. This was protection for our relationship. When something needed to be addressed, we could stand shoulder to shoulder looking at the contract and solve the problem together. Without the contract, there was a temptation to go head-to-head over who was right.

Here’s a contract we used that can be adapted.

Contract With Your Bounce Back Kid

Welcome. You are a competent, capable adult with a bright and promising future. Several changes have occurred since you lived here, so I believe it is best to develop a contract while you live at my home.

My goal is to provide a place for you to use in the next few months. You will rediscover who you are, and where you are going as an adult. As you develop goals for your future, I think you may appreciate the guidelines below.

  • To provide you space and time to develop your plan, you may live in my home as an adult for three months without paying rent.
  • Because I know you have no desire to live at home indefinitely and you will be successful at discovering the next steps for your future, beginning on (date), rent of (amount) is due by the tenth of each month.
  • This rent payment will include a bedroom, bath, common area privileges, parking, laundry facilities, and food.
  • If you choose to participate in family meals, I will communicate by text to let you know mealtimes. If you fail to come during those times, you will be responsible for providing your own food at your own expense. If you prefer to take care of your own food on a day-to-day basis, I will provide a shelf in the fridge, and the cupboard. Of course, use of the kitchen is part of the common areas and is available to you as long as you are respectful of mealtimes.
  • Sleep is valuable for all of us to stay healthy and sharp for careers and school. Because of this, we want you to feel welcome to use common spaces to interact with your friends. However, anyone visiting needs to leave by 10:00 p.m. on weekdays and 11:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
  • Since you understand an underage minor (your sibling) lives in my home, and you also know my personal preferences, I make the simple request that you honor no alcohol, drugs, smoking, or foul language while inside my home.
  • While at home, with me, or anywhere with younger siblings, and because you also know my personal preferences, I make the simple request that you keep behavior G-rated.
  • Your room will be your space. Items of yours left unattended in any of the common areas may be placed inside the door of your room to deal with as you choose.
  • What is outside your room is the property of others. Please treat community property such as furniture, dishes, washer and dryer, and bathrooms with gentleness. Be aware the landlady may levy fines based upon need for repair and maintenance.
  • Personal property of other residents is not available for borrowing. If you have need of a particular item, make a request that someone could consider gifting you to meet your need.
  • The half bath is available for your personal needs. However it also is our bathroom for guests. Please maintain it so that anyone may use it at any point in time without causing embarrassment.
  • Your dog is not allowed on furniture including couches, beds, etc. If you allow him onto your bed in your room, that is your choice.
  • Whenever there is anything to talk to me about, send me a text that we need to chat. I will make a time.
  • Beginning (date), you will be responsible for payment of your car insurance, registration, and license.
  • Of course maintenance, repair, and fuel for your vehicle is your responsibility.
  • Board and care for your pet is also yours.

I’ve set forth these points to show I believe in you. I know you are fully capable of moving forward in your life in a timely manner. By (date) we will talk about your plan for your exit strategy so you no longer need to be dependent on my help. However, if any of the above statements are impossible for you to accommodate, or you determine that this lifestyle is not for you, you have absolute freedom to make other arrangements for your life with assistance from whomever you choose.

See Potential in Your Bounce Back Kid

“Don’t own them,” advised family counselor Sue Dettmer. “You raised them to be independent and the more you open your hands and let them go the more joy you feel when they come around because they realize you released them to be all they can be.”

When an adult child bounces back home for a reset, this is an opportunity for the parent to hold the vision for their potential. Circumstances evolve through choices we make, choices others make that impact us, and sometimes through no fault of our own. In all of these scenarios, there is a lot to learn about us, those around us, and about the character of God and our relationship with him.

The more I could see my daughter’s potential, the more she was able to work through her own feelings of inadequacy and failure. No adult kid wants to have to move back home with their parent. Healthy meals, regular sleep routines, games played around the dinner table nurtured body and soul.  Invitations to go for a walk, bike ride, and with family and friends were good medicine.

Bounce Back Blessings

Perhaps most important were opportunities to pray together. My bounce back adult child had a fellow adult willing to be a companion on the journey. There were several false starts including a college program that closed mid-semester. And that miserable job that needed to be worked until a better position was found.

And God uses everything for his glory. During my adult child’s bounce back home to reset, God revealed the heart valve condition. Though we had chased symptoms for a decade the answer had proved elusive. Her bounce back status was the perfect place to be embraced and cared for during recovery from open heart surgery.

Navigating bounce back adult kids is challenging and layered with growth for both parent and child. Keeping my mentor on speed dial was essential for me to keep positive, strong, and healthy boundaries.

Talking regularly with someone who loved me and my adult child, and wanted to see us both succeed provided me with wise counsel to build relationship. Additionally, my minor-age child met regularly with a mentor.

Having an adult older sibling return home had a significant impact on the child still living at home.

Several years later, I’m grateful for that bounce back chapter in my relationship with my adult child. She has a depth and wisdom as a direct result of doing the hard work of her reset. She is the first to recognize and be patient when someone acts out of youth and immaturity. We share a confidence in our relationship as adults together as well as a collection of hard-won inside jokes.

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