12 February 2016
Getting Adult Kids Out of the House

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Junior goes off to college, does okay for four years, graduates – and moves back home to the room he had as a five-year-old.

Hey, weren’t you looking forward to a nice, quiet retirement? Weren’t you and your spouse going to enjoy your empty nest and maybe do a little traveling? Well, that may have been the plan, but with Junior back home and watching TV in the afternoon, you may be stuck baby-sitting for your adult child – the one who can’t seem to get himself or herself on track.

So what can you do to “help” your kids enjoy independent living? Maybe start by teaching them what independent living is.

Work, rent, rules, and all that grown-up stuff may not appeal to your kid, and why should it? You’re paying the rent, there’s no pressure on your child to grow up, get a job and move out, and every time you bring up the subject of moving, it ends in a squabble.

It’s still your house, still your rules. Even if your child is 35 years old and living in the basement, you control the environment and make and enforce the rules. Discuss dos and don’ts and make sure everybody is on the same page. Make the rules, make sure your kid knows what’s acceptable and what isn’t, then enforce the rules in your own home.

If following the rules feels too restrictive and makes your child uncomfortable, so much the better, because it may provide an extra incentive for them to move out.

Your child is not a victim. That adult child upstairs shooting zombies on her computer is not the victim. It’s not about the economy. It’s not about the scarcity of openings, or a lack of skills to fit the job market.

“I want to move out, but there aren’t any jobs.” Of course there are jobs. They may not be the jobs your daughter wants for a career, but it’s a step toward independence and managing life’s issues – like paying the bills on time. Your child isn’t the victim, but you may well become a victim if you let your kid call the shots.

Determine what kind of help the adult child needs. You aren’t helping your child by taking away self-sufficiency and self-esteem. When you pay your child’s bills, the child doesn’t learn to be self-sufficient. She learns that you’ll cave in and pay the bills.

Giving money to an adult child living at home may help, but it may also destroy self-esteem. Just what kind of help does your child need and who can best provide that help? For example, maybe your recently-graduated child needs career counseling on how to prepare a résumé and handle a job interview. Talk calmly and rationally to your child about making use of the resources that are available in most communities.

Is there a substance abuse problem? Kids (and parents) who abuse drugs and alcohol, or who exhibit addictive behaviors like gambling, may not be able to help themselves. Talk to a child you suspect of having a substance abuse problem and help that child find the right recovery program through school or through the community to get themselves straightened out and living well-adjusted, drug-free lives.

Don’t make judgments. Don’t become angry. These responses aren’t necessarily helpful. Encourage an open exchange without judgment or anger. No one wants to become an addict, but it can happen to anyone – even your own child.

Keep expectations real. Both parents and child should maintain realistic expectations based on a long history of open exchange and trust building. Your child may not land a six-figure salary on his first job. Their first home may be a fixer-upper. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for your child or for yourself.

Time to move. Your child may need some time to get his or her life in order – to find a job, find an apartment, buy a car, and other grown-up activities we all undertake. Set a deadline for moving and stick to it. If there’s no pressure to move out, it makes it easier to stay put – right upstairs where you don’t want them.

Set the rules, set the move-out date, help without sacrificing self-sufficiency, and avoid yelling at an adult who’s acting like a child. You still run things, so run them your way.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.



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