Raising a Teen Who Won't Need to Move Back Home

Teen carrying moving box while being hugged by her mother.

Terry Vine / Getty Images

They’re known as boomerang kids – the ones who move out at 18 only to return to Mom and Dad’s house a few years later when they’re financially strapped. For many families, supporting an adult child takes an emotional and financial toll.

Over the last four decades, there’s been a slow but steady increase in young adults moving back home. In 2012, 36% of young adults ages 18 to 31 were living in their parents’ homes, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center survey. 

If you doubt you’ll be a fan of your teen living on your couch until he’s 30, take steps to encourage him to leave the nest – and stay there. Here are nine steps you can take now to decrease the chances your teen will move back home later:

1. Let Your Teen Make Mistakes

Teens need opportunities to make mistakes while they’re still living under your roof. If you micromanage all your teen’s daily activities, he’ll miss out on vital learning opportunities. Sometimes, natural consequences serve as the best teacher.

2. Teach Money Management Skills

The biggest reason teens move back home is due to financial problems. Start teaching money basics at a young age. Show your teen how to establish a budget and provide him with plenty of opportunities to practice buying clothing and paying for entertainment on a budget.

3. Educate Your Teen About Debt

A lot of young adults don’t understand the ramifications of debt. The concept of ‘buy now pay later’ becomes enticing to many 18-year-olds, even when they don’t have the money to pay off the bills. Talk to your teen about the dangers of debt and make sure your teen understands how high-interest rates can wreak havoc on their finances.

4. Provide Guidance About Your Teen’s Future Plans

While teens need to have choices about they do in their future careers, it’s important to provide some guidance. A teen who wants to go deeply in debt for a generic college degree may spend much of his adult life paying back the loans. Provide plenty of education and guidance about your teen’s career-related choices.

5. Teach Your Teen Problem-Solving Skills

Healthy problem-solving skills can help your teen find strategies to deal with housing issues, transportation, and employment without moving back home. Proactively teach your teen how to solve problems independently.

6. Help Your Teen Learn How to Establish Healthy Relationships

Unhealthy relationships, whether it’s a friendship or a romantic relationship, can lead to lots of practical and emotional turmoil that can result in a teen moving home. Help your teen learn to recognize warning signs or red flags that indicate a relationship isn’t healthy.

7. Instill a Healthy Work Ethic

Instill a healthy work ethic by assign chores that teach responsibility and pay him an allowance for a job well done. When your teen is old enough, help him find a job. Help him see the benefits of work so he’ll remain driven to earn a living as an adult.

8. Teach Your Teen Life Skills

Teens need to know a variety of life skills, ranging from how to do chores to how to socialize with new people. Take time to proactively teach your teen the skills he’s going to need to live independently. Don’t forget to look at basic skills, like using telephone etiquette and addressing envelopes, which are often missed during the digital age.

9. Make Your Expectations Clear

If your teen thinks it’s normal to take out huge students loans and go deeply in credit card debt, he’s likely to think it’s OK to move back home. Make your expectations clear years in advance. Tell your child you expect him to be financially and emotionally independent. When he knows you expect him to hold down a job, pay his bills, and pay his own rent, he’s much less likely to move back home.

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Pew Research Center. A Rising Share of Young Adults Live in Their Parents’ Home.

  2. Sandberg-Thoma SE, Snyder AR, Jang BJ. Exiting and Returning to the Parental Home for Boomerang KidsJ Marriage Fam. 2015;77(3):806‐818. doi:10.1111/jomf.12183

By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, an international bestselling author of books on mental strength and host of The Verywell Mind Podcast. She delivered one of the most popular TEDx talks of all time.