Moving Back Home: 8 Mental Coping Tips for Adult Kids and Parents

Moving Back Home

At the beginning of 2020, Brenda and Craig, both in their mid-60s, were loving life as empty nesters, and the world seemed wide open with possibilities. The couple started taking road trips—something they couldn’t do when their kids were living at home and had to be shuttled to their sports events and school activities.

When COVID-19 began spreading across the globe, they didn’t really feel much concern. In their midwestern town, they didn’t know anybody who had gotten sick, so they continued road tripping. A few months into the pandemic, however, they started getting frantic calls from their youngest daughter Rachelle, 32, who was a New York City attorney living on her own in a Manhattan apartment. She had gotten laid off and was anxious about the spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths in her area. She felt stressed about her dwindling finances, lack of job prospects, and aching loneliness.

On one of those phone calls, Rachelle blurted out, “I can’t take it anymore! I’m moving back home!”

Brenda and Craig were thrilled to have their daughter move back home and welcomed her with open arms, but the new living situation wasn’t as smooth as they anticipated. And it was equally trying for their daughter. Understandably, their youngest child felt bad about losing her job, her apartment, and her independence. Brenda and Craig also felt like they’d lost their freedom too. And Rachelle fell back into old patterns, expecting her mom to do everything for her—the laundry, cooking, and cleaning—which made Brenda resentful.

Craig was concerned about his daughter’s behavior. She watched the news or scrolled the internet for pandemic information 24/7, which just ramped up her anxiety. He thought she was overreacting and suspected that her constant handwashing and sanitizing might be a sign of obsessive compulsive disorder. Their mismatched anxiety levels created a lot of tension that led to arguments.

That’s when Brenda and Craig reached out to Amen Clinics for help. They’re not alone. A growing number of families have been coming to the clinics for help coping with the stress of adult children moving back home. You may be struggling with the same situation whether you’re the parent or the adult child.


Since the pandemic hit in 2020, millions of Americans have made a major change they didn’t anticipate—moving back home with their parents. According to the Pew Research Center, show that by July 2020, 26.6 million 18- to 29-year-olds were living with their folks, an increase of 2.6 million since February of that same year. It’s the highest percentage of young adults living with their parents since the Great Depression.

The Gen Z crowd, Millennials, and Gen Xers are discovering that life with the ’rents comes with a host of stressors and new struggles. And on the flip side, the Baby Boomers who are welcoming them back home are facing their own set of challenges. A loss of independence, unresolved issues from the past, and a lack of privacy are just some of the factors that can make you bristle, regardless of whether you’re the adult child or the parent. Feelings of anxiety, depression, and worry about the pandemic, finances, and health can compound the stresses and make you feel like you’re living in a pressure cooker.

How can you cope with the issues that arise from suddenly living in a multigenerational household? As Brenda, Craig, and their daughter learned at Amen Clinics, one of the best ways to improve relationships is with a communication strategy psychiatrists call RELATING. Here’s how to put it into action.


R for Responsibility

This is the ability to respond to any situation. In all your dealings with the people living in your household, ask yourself what you can do to respond in a healthy, positive way.

E for Empathy

Having the ability to feel what others are feeling enhances relationships. Before blurting out something that may be hurtful to others, take a breath and think about where they are coming from and what they may be feeling. If you or your family members are struggling with anxiety, depression, ADD/ADHD, drug or alcohol problems, or other mental health issues, keep that in mind and encourage them to seek treatment if necessary.

L for Listening

Being a good listener and having effective communication skills is so important in getting along with family members, especially when you’re all living under the same roof. Put down your phone and actively listen to what others are saying.

A for Assertiveness

Expressing thoughts in a firm yet reasonable way is one of the keys to creating healthy boundaries at home. Firm doesn’t mean being aggressive or yelling. Be firm while also being kind, calm, and clear.

T for Time

To strengthen your relationships at home, you need to devote actual physical time to it. In these unprecedented times, however, you may find you have too much time together. If this is the case, find ways to get some alone time by taking a walk outside or scheduling quiet time for reading or meditating. Create a family schedule where you can note your “me time,” and be sure to respect others’ self-care time.

I for Inquiry

Questioning and correcting negative thoughts and thinking patterns regarding your family members is critical to creating a less stressful living situation. If your mind is filled with a lot of ANTs (automatic negative thoughts)—such as mind-reading ANTs (assuming you know what others are thinking without asking them), fortune-telling ANTs (predicting the worst), or blaming ANTs (blaming others for your situation)—it’s time to rethink your thinking.

N for Noticing

Make an effort to notice what you like about family members more than what you don’t like about them. When you direct your mind to look for the positive, it will help create a happier environment.

G Is for Grace and forgiveness

If you have trouble getting over past hurts or unresolved issues, find healthy ways to move forward. Giving grace and forgiving others isn’t about letting them get away with something, it is more about helping you heal and feel better.

Family issues, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues can’t wait. During these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever and waiting until life gets back to “normal” is likely to make your symptoms worsen over time.

At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. This is great advice. My adult son moved home before the pandemic but was unable to move on because of the pandemic. He’s now been here for 2 years, I wish I had this information then. I think you should add that you need a feeling of being in this together. My 91 year old mother was also living with us, she recently passed. We all helped her at the end of her life which also brought us together as a family. We had a purpose, to help my Mom. We worked together & now we share each others grief. My son will be moving on in the next few months but I’ll cherish this time .

    Comment by Becky Ragsdale — May 7, 2021 @ 5:18 AM

  2. I feel the same as this article I’m 34 and I might lose my job after getting COVID because I was put on meds that my job is not approving off. They are not giving me a lot of time to get off them which is difficult and I put my house up for sale because I can’t afford the bills if I lose my job and I’m very nervous and embarrassed and this article made me feel I’m not alone

    Comment by Richard — May 7, 2021 @ 8:21 AM

  3. I was excited when my 23 yo son asked if he can come back home to continue working from home last November. I thought it’s a good opportunity for us to be together as a family again. However, I feel it damaged our relationship. He makes good money but never even thought he has to contribute or share any expenses. He lives like in the hotel with full service and said that he wants to safe money! He spends most of his time in his room, goes to the gym and meets his friends on weekends. I feel that he is just using me for his convenience. Selfish and stingy! A lot of my friends said that it will pass, he will mature and will change. I hope they’re right.

    Comment by Lucy Gareys — May 7, 2021 @ 3:52 PM

  4. Excellent, relevant and helpful article about adult children moving back home to their parents home. The RELATE tips were helpful. You may want to consider a separate article about older adult children moving in with their parents to help them. All of your suggestions would apply to that situation and others could be added that are specific to it. Thank you again.

    Comment by Teresa — May 8, 2021 @ 6:51 AM

  5. Both of my adult children, 22 and 25, moved back home for a brief period to regroup and reset before the pandemic hit. My 22 was let go from her work, so qualified for unemployment. My 25 was getting ready for grad school and not working so did not. For better or worse, we all spend the last 1.5 years together and it was challenging. I experienced all of the issues Dr Amen wrote about. They are both still with me, but my 25 will head to grad school later this summer. My 22 is still finding her way. It’s hard to let go of control when parenting adults. Both kids have taught me new ways of communication to be better effective. I thinking communication is key to most healthy relationships. Keep talking, even if it’s not always face to face. Sometimes we have better luck with email letters and texts. All ways are good! Keep talking!

    Comment by Jennifer — May 8, 2021 @ 1:30 PM

  6. The pandemic time was in some important ways a gift. Never could so many have been able to stay home, Adopt or foster pets, plant gardens and enjoy the generations of family for so many months. I only wish my sons would come home to spend an hour with me. Please enjoy the gift of companionship with an adult child who wants to come home to live. These opportunities to slow down are rare Enjoy what we can for we are not promised tomorrow.

    Comment by Debra Bel — May 8, 2021 @ 6:29 PM

  7. If my child moved back home and thought I was her maid service and didn’t make a financial contribution to the home to cover her expenses, while being able to, I’d be showing her the door. It’s one thing to have anxiety, depression, etc. because of what is going on in the world today, but let’s face it, we are all dealing with the same situation. It’s a complete bird of another feather to take advantage of your parents who have lovingly opened the door to you and let you come home. It’s home, not a hotel. Honey, I love you, but if you’re coming home to add to my stress, that’s not happening. I’m too old for that.

    Comment by Rebecca Y. Natal — May 24, 2021 @ 10:04 AM

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