The U.S. economy may be improving, but countless young adults are still living at home or counting on a childhood bedroom for backup housing should they prove unable to pay rent on their own.
"Many kids now in their 20s to early 30s are in a period of protracted adolescence. They're intellectually, culturally and technically ready to be independent, but not emotionally or financially," says Bruce Tulgan, author of "Not Everyone Gets a Trophy: How to Manage Generation Y."
As Tulgan notes, the continued dependence of young adult children can sometimes seriously complicate their parents' need to liquidate a home.
"Many parents are scrambling financially themselves. Just to make it possible to retire, lots of people have to sell the family house and downsize to a smaller place," he says.
Even parents with lots of financial resources may find themselves in conflict with their grown children over their desire to move elsewhere in the country or to live abroad.
"On the emotional level, lots of kids want the family home where they grew up to be kept like a museum -- a place where they could return at any time and stay in their childhood bedroom," Tulgan says.
Kathleen Shaputis, author of "The Crowded Nest Syndrome," says even young adults who are employed full-time may prefer to live at home if they don't make enough money to support the sort of lifestyle they enjoyed during their growing-up years.
Shaputis says it's not only young adults living at home who may try to intervene and change their parents' minds about selling the family property. Even those living independently may protest.
"Many young people see the family home as their safety net, a place where they can retreat if they lose a job or can't make it on their own," she says.
But she insists that in most cases, parents should put their own housing and financial needs ahead of their children's desires.
"Parents have got to cut the cord sometime. This is not so much about tough love as reality," she says.
Here are a few pointers for the parents of grown kids who plan to sell a family home:
-- Solidify your plans before informing your grown children.
"It's important to make your plans prior to breaking the news to the kids," says Shaputis. "Parents who let their children in on the decision-making process can expect they'll try to influence the outcome."
But Shaputis says that if your grown children are living at home, or are counting on the family domicile as a fallback, it's only fair that you announce to them your decision on moving with as much advance warning as possible.
"Good advance communication is the key. If you spring the news on your kids, you can expect a backlash that could lead to needless conflict within the family," she says.
-- Help your kids make a smooth emotional transition.
Handling change is more of a challenge for some people than others. Just because your children are young adults doesn't mean they won't experience the sale of the family home as a significant loss.
"Tradition is extremely important to some kids. For example, they might be very unhappy that Thanksgiving dinner will no longer be celebrated in the same place where they lived for years," Shaputis says.
You can help your children make an easier transition emotionally with reassurances that they'll be welcome no matter where you live.
"Tell them you're always going to love them and that they're always going to be your kids," Shaputis says.
-- Assist your boomerang children to find a place of their own.
If your grown children are currently living with you, Shaputis says there are several ways you can help your kids formulate their plans for independent living.
"Brainstorm with them about how they could make it on their own financially, including possibly taking a second job. Help them scan the ads to find a reasonably priced apartment and a roommate to share the rent," she says.
Obviously, the preference of parents to make an immediate move sometimes conflicts with the legitimate needs of their grown kids to stay put in the family home for a defined period.
"If the circumstances warrant it, you may have to delay your home sale for a while to do what needs to be done for the good of the family as a whole," Shaputis says.
-- Recognize that good parenting involves more than housing and money.
Tulgan, who specializes in helping companies understand Generation Y employees, notes that some affluent parents can both make a major housing move and help their kids financially during their formative career years.
Still, Tulgan says parents who must downsize and can't afford to subsidize their kids still have a lot to offer in less tangible ways.
"Encouragement is great, as are guidance and support. Anything you do to help them learn problem-solving and decision-making will help them gain the grit and resilience they need to survive on their own, long-term," Tulgan says.
(To contact Ellen James Martin, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)