There's a growing trend of adult kids returning home, creating new obstacles for older parents.
According to the Pew Research Center, more than half of today's 18 to 24-year-olds moved back to their parents' homes within the past few years. Other surveys say 85-percent of college students expect to move back home for a while after graduation and are facing a bleak job market.
Meanwhile, their parents are at somewhat of a loss, as they've begun to shift their attentions back to their spouses and/or the physical and financial needs of their own elderly relatives.
Dr. Martin Drell, Professor of Psychiatry at LSU Health Sciences Center, says the new arrangement calls for some issues to be addressed.
What changes does that make to the kids? What changes does that make to the families and to the parents?
"What the parents and their kids need to do is realize that this is a different stage of life, and that they need to negotiate," says Drell.
He says the old rules don't fit anymore because the kids aren't kids anymore.
But ground rules have to set. "Parents should negotiate with their kids and see what the new set of rules should be," Drell says.
He says clear communication should establish expectations regarding money, house rules and responsibilities, and length of stay.
"What are the chores these people are going to do? Are they going to pay the rent" Is the expectation that they're going to try to get a job, or can they just sit around all day and sort of give up?"
Drell says some young adults find it easier to take the couch than take a job and have just returned home to be taken care of.
But, new obstacles are created since the kids are almost all grown up, and the old rule of 'do what you're told' can cause problems.
Many parents believe they have done their part as a parent, raised their children, put them through college so they can earn a decent living, and now it's time they were on their own.
Some empty nesters don't look forward to giving up the peace and comfort of living alone. Many do, however, to help their children. Some parents like their kids to live at home. Many parents of adult children who are returning home want to help out.
Either way, Drell says good relationships are the result of good, clear communication. And expectations should be no surprise.
It should remain evident that the adult child is working toward something. If no progress toward independence is seen, a reevaluation of the situation and some very clear communication should get them back on track.