Gordon Powers

Today's young adults study longer, marry later, and earn their own keep more slowly than the previous generation, according to Statistics Canada. And when they do eventually leave, they come back - sometimes more than once - after university, between jobs, or after a divorce.

In some cases, kids aren't coming home alone either; they're bringing somebody with them. About 11 per cent of women and 8 per cent of men in their late 20s, who reside with their parents, also live with a partner, Stats Can reports - to say nothing about those with their own offspring in tow.

The phenomenon of so-called "boomerang kids" is often a matter of economic necessity, says Linda Perlman Gordon, author of Mom, Can I Move Back in With You? A Survival Guide for Parents of Twentysomethings. After leaving university with an average of $26,000 in student loans, most recent graduates' employment prospects are generally entry-level jobs or resume-building internships.

And even when young people do land jobs, they often don't pay much, aren't secure and frequently don't offer much in the way of benefits. As a result, many twentysomethings now view moving home as a reasonable alternative to handling expenses on an entry-level salary while wrestling with student loans and quarter-life crises.

While many parents are happy with this arrangement, watch out for two important factors, advises Armin Brott, author of Father for Life. First, having a divorced or separated child move back in - perhaps with a baby in tow - takes its toll on parents' own marriages in unusual ways. Second, the adult child's being unemployed or financially dependent increases the chances of conflict, potentially making everyone miserable.

In many cases, your kids have tried to be independent and haven't succeeded at it so they come home disappointed and defensive. And that's likely to be more of a problem for sons than daughters, he adds.

Young men tend to have more of a sense of entitlement and are more likely to be unemployed, he warns, although it's not clear whether they're home because they aren't working, or they aren't working because they're at home.

It's important for adult children to recognize and understand that they're intruding into your lives to a certain extent, disrupting the daily routines that you've established since they moved away. That's why you're better off to think of them as roommates, rather than visitors.

If your ultimate goal is their independence, set a limit for how long they can live in your house. You can always adjust that deadline later but it's a good target for everyone which will help to avoid the resentment that can arise from imbalanced assumptions.

Don't fall back into your old habits. You're not responsible for making sure they have a hot, nutritious meal every night. Nor are you some sort of personal concierge.