By Emsie Martin
The fact that adult children move back home has become such a common occurrence that it has been given a name – the boomerang generation. Nowadays, though, it is not only unmarried children who stay on in their parental home to first find their feet; the Covid-19 pandemic has caused an economic crisis that leads to many adult children, some with families of their own, having to move back home to their parents. Parents should however not be overwhelmed by their children and place themselves in a financial predicament.
According to Gerhard Kotzé, managing director of the RealNet property group, there are many reasons why young adults have to take this step. Over and above the situation in which Covid-19 has placed many young people, such as unemployment, dismissal due to staff reduction, businesses that have had to close, loss of property and sometimes also divorce, it would only be a heartless parent who would in such circumstances turn away his or her own child.
It could also possibly mean that parents have to for the time being postpone their own plans to, for example, sell the large family home and go smaller or move to a retirement resort. These situations will also affect the parents’ financial position. There will now be expenses and frustrations they would not have had under normal circumstances – not only the parents, but also the adult child who was independent and now has to live under his or her parents’ roof once again.
Parents should however not beat about the bush about their boundaries and expectations regarding this new co-habiting arrangement. Children will have to adapt to their parents’ “rules” once again.
Forget the days when you were still a child in the home
Firstly, the family should avoid returning to the old pattern, dating back to when the children were still young and the parents were entirely responsible for all the tasks and accounts.
Even if the adult children who return home aren’t able to make a financial contribution, they should at least be willing to perform other chores to have everything run smoothly and to help diminish costs and expenditures as far as possible. If elderly parents have been making use of a domestic help or a gardener, it could now be taken over by the children to save on those expenses.
Everyone in the family must also understand that the budget only covers essentials and that they have to proceed with caution and avoid all unnecessary expenses.
Avoid using retirement funds
Secondly, parents should strongly avoid all pressure to use retirement funds to get children out of debt. At this age it will be difficult to eliminate the backlog; even if the children find work it will not be possible for them to repay their parents. They will need every cent themselves to get back on their feet. It is enough that parents offer their adult children and grandchildren a roof over their heads and give them support while the children sort out their own debt position and repayment agreements.
Thirdly, the family must be honest and discuss personal boundaries and house rules. Of course, it makes it easier if the property is of such a nature that it can accommodate more than one family. If this is not the case, a midway has to be found beforehand.
Should the relationship already be shaky, it could become worse. There will now once again be someone who, before you go out, wants to know where you are going and when you will be back. Parents will always be concerned and that is a privilege, but sometimes it will feel as if you have no privacy.
Parents remain in control
Lastly, it has to be accepted that the parents remain in control of their home. This is especially important if grandchildren are involved, as they instinctively look to their parents for decisions. The situation must be explained to them in a friendly and clear manner so that they don’t become confused about it.
A fair expectation is that your children will move out as soon as they once again earn a reasonable salary and can afford to acquire their own accommodation.
- If your child earns a salary, let him/her pay rent, even it only a small amount.
- Involve the children in domestic chores and distribute the work, for example taking turns to prepare meals.
- Support your child to earn an extra income; put that hidden talent to work.
- Respect each other.
- Don’t make it too comfortable so that your children don’t want to move out again.
- Let them pay for internet, cell phone, personal expenses, food that would normally not be on your grocery list.
- Don’t intervene to solve your children’s financial problems. It’s time they learn to manage with less and live within a new budget.
Most importantly, if problems arise, discuss them immediately.
Gerhard Kotzé, managing director of the RealNet property group