“Welcome Home. When are you leaving?”
A Parent’s Guide to Boomerang Kids - Part 3
Here are some guidelines for parents who find they are moving from empty nesters to landlords.
How to Respond to a Child that Comes Home
- Go to the scriptures. I recommend any parent with a child coming home reread the story of the Prodigal Son. There is so much wisdom within the father’s response that can prepare you well for that moment.
- Respond with mercy, understanding and empathy. The father of the Prodigal Son didn’t greet his son with an “I told you so” lecture. He greeted him with mercy. We are told the son in that story came to his senses while dining with pigs, not when his father was lecturing him about blowing it.
- Create healthy boundaries. I recommend developing a contract that clearly outlines the boundaries of being home (paying rent, use of family resources like car, food and media, length of stay, expectations for pursuing a job or schooling, etc.).
- Involve other voices. Identify a pastor, counselor or friend who can serve as a voice of accountability, as well as a mentor, for the student returning home. If your son/daughter were out of the home, they’d be answering to a college professor, a boss or supervisor – some other voice of authority. It’s difficult for both parties when a parent becomes the only person reinforcing the terms of a contract.
- Use the time to strengthen your relationship. Take advantage of this unexpected season by seeking out ways to connect. God may have allowed this season for the purpose of repairing or restoring your relationship in some way, or perhaps just for strengthening or furthering the relationship.