Help! The Kids Won’t Leave Home
Help! The Kids Won’t Leave Home
Our children are choosing to live at home longer. Some well into their thirties, even forties. It’s hardly surprising considering we make it so comfortable for them: teenage retreats, games rooms, fridges overflowing with food. Their alternative, some grotty one-bed apartment with a leaky shower.
There may come a time when you feel resentful, manipulated, your dreams of downsizing and jetting off around Europe a distant blip on the horizon.
So, how do you politely get them to move on?
From a young age, our children watch us buying things by credit card and collecting money from slots in the walls. It’s no wonder they assume their lifestyle comes for free. They can’t understand how it all works if we fail to explain. So teach them the value of earned money versus free money. Start early, rewarding them for completing household errands and jobs – they won’t appreciate free handouts that come with no obligation.
Show them how to manage their money; spending what they need, but putting the rest away. Saving is a skill that must be learned. And without savings, they won’t have an adequate rental bond or loan deposit to be able to move out.
Don’t make excuses
Raising financially competent kids can be difficult because we don’t want to see our children suffer. It’s easy to blame rising university costs and crippling property markets, but if you keep using these excuses, you’re not helping them achieve the independent lifestyle they deserve.
Your children may feel scared and anxious about leaving the security of their family home. They might try to play the victim role claiming, “Things are too expensive now. Life’s not fair.” But if you buy into this way of thinking, you’re only hindering their advancement in life.
Put aside your feelings of guilt and encourage them to take practical steps to finding solutions.
Let go of control
As parents, we’re used to making decisions for our children. But as they approach adulthood, we need to take a step backwards, encouraging them to form their own plans. You can still be available to guide and support, but if they are going to live independently, they need to have confidence in their choices.
Encourage them do their own research about loans, housing options, utilities etc. They will have more confidence and feel more rewarded if they do the work themselves.
You’re not doing your adult child any favours by allowing them to lounge around the house watching daytime TV and eating all the food in the fridge. They are old enough to help with washing, cooking and cleaning and it will make them more independent individuals.
If they have completed their studies and they’re unemployed, they should be actively looking for a job. Make it clear you expect them to be proactive towards this goal between 9am and 5pm. If they are earning, they should be putting weekly amounts aside to go towards a deposit or rental bond.
If things get really desperate and you begin to feel taken advantage of, give your adult child notice. Although it’s a difficult conversation for any parent to have, sometimes tough love is the most effective remedy. Establish a reasonable timeline for moving out and help them set goals to make this achievable. Make your expectations clear and remain firm while assuring them of your love and support.
Form a plan
Any major step in life needs a strategy. Encourage your child to form their own plan including goals for finding a job, locating a place to live, sorting through their belongings etc. What type of housing suits their needs and budget? Should they move into shared accommodation to help with rent, or are they more suited to living alone?
Offer some financial help
Sometimes, our kids need a little help to achieve that next step in their lives. If you feel able and wanting to help, set an incentive that you will match whatever they can save within a set period. Housing is expensive in today’s climate and there’s nothing wrong with providing some assistance so long as your child is doing most of the work. Plan early. You may need to set some money aside each week or invest cautiously so that you have the funds to help when the time is right.
Prepare your child about the costs of living independently by getting them to fill out a budget planner. Look over their results with them. How accurate are their estimations?
Completing a budget planner will help them understand their finances including what they can afford.
Final wise words…
If you make it too easy for your children at home, they may feel ill-equipped to cope on their own as adults. As parents, we need to prepare them for the real world. That way, when the time comes for them to leave home, it’s a natural process. They are ready. And you can get on with your life without guilt (and a little less concern).
What do you think? How old is too old to keep living at home?
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