How to kick your grown-up child out of the home
Raising kids is expensive. It’s even more expensive when they grow up and won’t leave the family home
Nowadays, having a grown-up child living at home is reasonably common. In fact, one third of millennials are living with their parents. The rising cost of living, especially relative to incomes, is at least a partial cause of this, resulting in many young adults struggling to leave the comforts of the family home and instead lingering in the family home a lot longer than previous generations. For many well-meaning parents, keeping their child at home (or even accepting them back as a ‘boomerang child’) means helping them to save money, study, manage a transition, repay debts, or find a job.
However, while this might be a wise financial choice for the young adult, it can put pressure on the parents – particularly if they’re nearing retirement. Kicking kids out of the family home may seem callous, but there’s a growing acknowledgement that young adults need to be financially responsible and independent. Add to this the benefits for the parents, which will probably include:
- A lower power bill,
- A lower water bill,
- A much lower food bill, and
- Probably being a better parent by encouraging more adult-like behaviour from the adult child. This includes maturity and self-reliance.
The most famous example of kicking an adult child “out of the nest” is the New York parents who won a legal battle to evict their 30 year old son after he refused to leave voluntarily. To avoid reaching that sort of extreme situation, here are five tips on how to kick your grown-up child from the home:
1. Set expectations early
Raising children to value the pride and self-satisfaction that comes from standing on their own two feet and provide for themselves is key. One practical step may be managing their expectations, so they know that when they leave high school, if they remain in the family home, they’ll be paying board or rent. Parents can also require that certain chores be completed, and specific job-seeking steps be performed.
Once your child or children have left home, place limitations on your generosity as soon as possible –preferably before your boomerang child steps back through the door. For example, savvy parents can limit the time they'll allow their youngster to live at home again before they’re expected to leave the parents as an “empty nester”. After, say, six months, junior needs to have his or her own flat.
2. Enlist a role model
It’s no secret that many young adults don’t listen to their parents.
This is where a separate role model could be used to inspire and motivate - perhaps grandparents, older siblings or a successful family friend.
3. Incentivise them to move out
Dipping into your own pockets to help a youngster move out is a tough call to make. The “bank of mum and dad” is increasingly a go-to for cash-strapped young adults, however it often ends badly, and some say this “bank” has the highest default rate of all.
One option may be to set aside the rent or board your child has been paying to stay at home and give some or all of it back to cover a security deposit and new furniture at the child’s own flat or apartment.
Alternatively, the best way to assist kids often isn’t financially. Instead it might be to link kids up with people that parents know in their chosen industry, to help them practice for job interviews, and pass-on other knowledge and insights, striving for a successful, independent adulthood.
This is the “carrot” of the “carrot and stick” approach.
4. Make it a little uncomfortable
This is the “stick” for the “carrot” described above.
Some kids struggle to leave the nest because their childhood home is just too cosy. To encourage their exit, parents may want to make home a little less comfy. This provides an incentive for leaving.
That doesn't necessarily mean being a nag or a taskmaster but should ensure they adhere to house rules. Consider having them show proof that they're trying to secure a job (though with 45,000 jobs advertised in New Zealand they shouldn’t be unemployed long). It's your house, so you can even require a curfew or forbid overnight guests.
5. Prevent financial dependence from becoming a habit
It’s true that allowing your adult children to live at home is often less financially burdensome than paying their rent or paying off their student loan debt. Such oversized financial gifts can easily bankrupt financially stretched parents, or more likely cause them to run out of funds in their 80s.
So carefully consider your level of support. Having your kid's childhood bedroom available is one thing, but don't let your financial generosity escalate. You want to foster independence, not create an adult child who requests tens of thousands of your retirement dollars down the road.
The bottom line
Here are the top five ways to kick your grown-up child out of the home:
- Set expectations early
- Enlist a role model
- Incentivise them to move out
- Make it a little uncomfortable
- Prevent financial dependence from becoming a habit
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