26: Helping Young Adults Suddenly Boomeranged Back Home

How to Live Harmoniously with Young Adults at Home

Jeffrey Jensen Arnett is an expert on “emerging adults,” or, young people from 18 to 29.  A psychology professor at Clark University in Worcester, Mass, Jeffrey has defined this “emerging adult’ phase of life, which is quite distinct from the teen and adult phases. He has also researched and written two books that have altered my parenting tremendously. He co-authored: Getting to 30: A Parent’s Guide to the 20-Something Years and wrote Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens Through the Twenties. In this HappiNest episode, he shares how to help our “emerging adults” thrive now that many of them have “boomeranged” back home during the global pandemic. That’s a lot of get a grip on, no matter how old you are.

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What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Many young adults who have “boomeranged” back home suddenly will suffer serious economic disruption. Many of them were working as servers in restaurants, baristas in coffee shops, bartenders. Don’t just talk to them—LISTEN.
  • The good news for “boomeranged” young adults is that living at home with Mom and Dad has been very common in recent years.
  • Having young adults home requires adjustments. Define the ground rules: Who preps meals? Shops for groceries? Cleans? Does the laundry? Sit down and have that conversation. They need to take an equal adult share of responsibilities. Don’t do everything for them.
  • When a young adult moves home for whatever reason, it feels like a step backward. It may feel like failure. But it’s almost always temporary-unless they have physical or mental health problem. Savor this rare opportunity to be together.
  • If you have downsized since your young adults left, or converted a bedroom into an office, you may have to re-arrange existing space, especially if you have college kids who need to learn online.
  • There’s not much you can do to motivate your young adult to finish online college work. Young adults don’t appreciate parental instruction when they are in their 20s.
  • Provide a welcoming, loving space and help them find the new normal. Make them a cup of tea. Go for a walk together. Plan something you can make together for dinner. This will help them tap into their own motivation.
  • Bring back the family dinner—without phones or other electronic devices. This creates connection and provides an opportunity to share information.
  • Find new ways to have FUN, which has been in short supply since restaurants, shows and athletic events have been shuttered.
  • Hopefully, this crisis—as tough as it is—can bring out the best in us.