Boomerang Kids Don’t Derail Their Parents

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A popularized image of parents who struggle when adult children move back home is not shaping up as an accurate picture of the arrangements.

Unemployment, divorce, college graduation – adult children in their 20s and 30s move back into a parent’s home for many reasons. And the parents can have all sorts of reactions, good and bad, to their boomeranging kids.

Some parents get stressed out by young adults who return home because they need financial support. Others welcome having the kids back to pad the empty nest, help with household chores, or help pay the bills.

The return home isn’t necessarily a one-time thing either. “As they attempt to gain financial independence, adult children may alternate between living on their own and living with parents,” according to a new study of parents in their 50s and 60s.

But young adults who move back home do not seem to affect their parents’ health, wealth levels, hours worked, or general well-being when compared with other parents. One reason these events have minimal impact is that they tend to be temporary and are being driven by real-world issues like the child’s divorce or loss of income, the researchers said.

The one way that parents in the study do seem to be affected by boomerang children is that they are more likely than other parents to say they plan to work past age 65. Even so, this is mainly true for parents under 62 – and for fathers more than mothers.

The fact that they’re thinking so far in the future about delaying retirement may say more about anticipating the potential for a negative financial impact rather than the reality of how their children’s decisions will affect them years later.

Squared Away writer Kim Blanton invites you to follow us on Twitter @SquaredAwayBC. To stay current on our blog, please join our free email list. You’ll receive just one email each week – with links to the two new posts for that week – when you sign up here.  This blog is supported by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.