Color of Money: Should parents welcome the boomerang generation back?

Michelle Singletary on

So, the question for many parents is: Should they welcome back their grown birds into the nest?

This was a question that came up during one of my recent online discussions. Here's the situation: "Adult daughter and her husband are going through a life transition," a reader wrote. "She will be teaching school and her husband has a physically strenuous job, which he needs to leave. Fortunately, son-in-law has some good ideas. They have a starter townhouse they can sell or rent. If they move in with us parents, they can save money while he looks for the new job. He can do temp work in the meantime. Thanks to the teaching job, she can cover their insurance costs. Both are highly motivated and hard workers. In spite of the terrible economy when they graduated from college in 2009, they found work, just not the kind that will sustain a family. Is it crazy to invite them to stay with us?"

It's not crazy at all. It's a caring offer to welcome them into your home so that they can reposition themselves financially. But, if I may, I'd like to offer a word of warning taken from the poem "To a Mouse" by Scottish poet Robert Burns. The English translation reads:

"The best laid schemes of mice and men

Go often askew,

And leave us nothing but grief and pain,


For promised joy!"

Before your adult child or his or her family move in with you, I recommend doing the following:

-- Set an initial timeline. Looking for and finding a job can be a lengthy and frustrating process. How long are you willing to host the couple? What if the job search takes a year -- or two? If the son-in-law finds a job, is the expectation that they would move out right away?

You can always revisit any timeline you set, but at least be clear on how much time they have.


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