It's becoming more and more common that adult children are moving back in with their parents. Even though the economy is improving and the job market is starting to gain traction again, wages are down and the cost of living is up. According to the Wall Street Journal, the decision to let your kids move back into their old rooms could cost you somewhere between $8,000-$18,000 a year. And it doesn't just take a monetary toll. Emotions can run high as your kids are trying to reconcile their independence with their dependence on you.
Don't treat them like you did when they were kids
The most important thing for you not to do at this point is to treat them like you did when they were kids. They probably don't want you poking around in their business all the time, and they certainly don't need a curfew. On the other hand, they're adults now and they should act like it. Establish some ground rules that involve them helping around the house with cooking, cleaning and yard work. You're doing them a favor by letting them stay, so it's not OK if they spend all their free time lounging around or playing video games.
Should you charge rent?
When it comes to rent, utilities and food, this should be entirely based on what you think is fair. There is no ancient parent code that says you're a bad person if you charge your child rent. But if you choose not to, make sure you compensate with the aforementioned cooking, cleaning, etc. Giving them a full free ride is likely to keep them around longer than you really want.
Should you give them a deadline?
The last thing you want is for your kids to get too comfortable back at home. Even if you love having them around, it hinders their own development to remain dependent on you for longer than is needful. Consider giving them a deadline as to when they should be stable enough to be back on their own. While there are certainly extenuating circumstances, refrain from enabling irresponsible behavior that could plague them the rest of their lives.
Acknowledge that it isn't easy
As much as you love your children, and vice versa, living together simply isn't going to always be rainbows and unicorns. Your kids are older now and more independent in their thinking. Their opinions likely differ from yours. The faster you recognize that, the easier it will become to get along together. Take the time to communicate with them about any expectations you might have, and listen to their expectations too. They're probably only a little more mature than when they left you the first time, so they're still going to make mistakes. Accept that, and allow it to help you become a more empathetic and loving parent.
The underlying thread in all of this is to make sure you have proper communication before and during your child's stay with you. Be open about what you expect in regards to finances, other help and how long the stay should be. Additionally, recognize that your child is an adult now and that things won't always be peachy. Enjoy the closeness, but don't forget the goal which is to help your child become his best self.