When an adult child moves home and you were an empty nester, you might be upset about your loss of privacy. But you need to stay optimistic and make the most of your living situation. "Look at it as a new opportunity to spend time with your adult children when you don't have the angst of living with teenagers," Shaffer says.

"Understand that you have an emerging adult living with you, not the teenager who left before college," Gordon adds.

But what is your role as a parent in this living arrangement? It's to support your child as she becomes incrementally more mature and help her better manage her own life, Shaffer says. "Make sure you're not enabling further dependence, but giving them real opportunities and coaching and mentoring them to become mature adults," she says.

It might seem difficult to gauge an adult child's growth, but Shaffer and Gordon have developed a new standard for measuring maturity that's more applicable for today's young adults.

Some signs of maturity include your adult child's ability to:
  • Display empathy
  • Have opportunities to show personal responsibility and demonstrate personal responsibility
  • Become as financially independent as possible
  • Set and maintain appropriate boundaries, set her own course and show respect for others' privacy
  • Develop respectful interdependence. "We want to stay connected to our children, but we want them to become independent and become individuals while staying connected," Shaffer says.
When you see your boomerang child failing to meet these emotional standards, it can be difficult not to step in. However, Shaffer says to rescue with caution. "Don't do for them what they can do for themselves, and listen before responding to them," she says. "Realize that making things easier for them doesn't not necessarily prepare them for real life."

Also, allowing your adult child to fix her own mistakes shows her that you have total faith in her. "If you're constantly fixing things, that erodes their self-esteem," Shaffer says.

What living at home means for an adult child


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