Extracting the Child Who Stayed in the Nest Too Long

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Margaret writes in:

I have a twenty four year old daughter who is still living at home. She went away to college, but moved back in after college while looking for a job. She’s had a good job now for two years, but has made no move at all to move out. She does give me money for groceries and for bills, but she spends the rest of her money as soon as she gets it on clothes and cell phones and laptops.

I think it’s time for her to move out, but I know that if I kicked her out, she would have nothing to fall back on. What credit she has is pretty poor.

So I’m stuck. What do you suggest?

I suggest putting the impetus back on your daughter. This is how I would handle the situation.

Here’s what I would do. I’d sit down and have a heart to heart with her. Explain, quite simply, that you’ve been happy to give her a place to live while she gets back on her feet, but now it’s time to move on. Most of the time, children in this situation will do everything they can to delay moving out, so you’ll hear a lot of excuses about how she doesn’t have enough money, she’s not ready, and so forth.

So change the rules a bit. Offer to let her stay there for one more month if she opens up a savings account. At the end of each month, as long as the balance in that account is $500 (or $1,000) higher than it was the month before, she can stay for another month. Otherwise, it’s time for her to go.

This little move achieves both your goals and her goals. Your goal is to have your daughter become responsible for her own money to the point where she can easily move out of your home, a goal accomplished by her having a wad of money in the bank. Her goal is to prolong the situation – and you’ve given her a route to do that.

Eventually, what will happen is that she’ll begin to realize the money she’s saved up can be enough to help her buy nice living quarters of her own without Mom constantly there overseeing things. That’s a big difference from the state she’s in now, where the idea of moving out is far in the nebulous future. When that option becomes tangible and real, she’ll want to move out.

What if she says that this is impossible? Simply tell her you’d be happy to help her figure out how to manage it. Point out that her income significantly exceeds the amount you expect her to save. If it results in a fight, stick to your guns and remember that she’s actively choosing not to progress forward. That’s much different than merely spinning her wheels, which is what was happening before. If that’s the situation, you have to cut her free and let her make mistakes on her own.

What if she’s on board strongly with the idea? Encourage her. Give her a copy of the book Your Money or Your Life as food for thought. Offer to counsel her in any way that she wants, but don’t push – quite often, the path to learning how to manage one’s own resources is a solitary one. You might even end up pointing her towards The Simple Dollar or other such websites for other ideas.

Remember, the end goal here isn’t to merely extract your daughter from your home, but to make sure that she’s self-sufficient enough that this won’t be a continuous problem in the future. Give her all you can to make her self-sufficient – if she chooses not to, you’ve done all you can. That’s what good parenting is, in the end – making sure your children have the tools to succeed on their own and that they know how to use those tools.

Good luck, Margaret.

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65 thoughts on “Extracting the Child Who Stayed in the Nest Too Long

  1. I’ve never understood the desire to stay at home with parents. Perhaps my situation was just so “miserable” to a 20 something who wanted “freedom”, that following my “parent’s rules” was all I needed to make the push out of the place.

    Granted, I could have benefitted by staying and saving money, but I wanted away so bad, that I skipped that step and have been playing “catch up” ever since.

    It’s a shame that kids don’t understand the advantage they can have to save up their money while at home and instead, choose to spend spend spend!

  2. I think the “I will check your savings-account every month”-plan could feel weird. Wouldn’t that be another “mom is overseeing and controlling everything”-situation?
    Maybe another way would be: Margaret charges REAL rent – I don’t know how much that would be in her area, it will be much more than the daughter is paying her now. And she would have to contribute a REAL amount (again, I am assuming she is paying way less than the costs would be out in the real world) towards food, heat, electricity and so on.
    That would/could/should hopefully shift her view towards “I have to pay a real amount, I might as well move out, pay the same and don’t be overlooked by my mother”.
    Of course, Margaret could save the additional money she is getting from her daughter and give it back to her when she has moved out as an additional bonus and to make the daughter not feel as if she had been ripped off – but she could also keep it because since the daughter has been in the working force for two years already, she had plenty of time for saving due to the very inexpensive living at home.

  3. My sister is quite similar to this. She doesn’t have the greatest job (call center) but she does want to move out of mom’s place. She has been there a few years.

    She also wants to be able to spend her spare (after loan payments) money on DVD’s, theatre movies, eating out, and video games.

    She already has a lot of stuff from a previous time she lived on her own, and I think she has a small storage unit that she keeps some of it in.

    Recently she thought she would try to apply for a low income housing loan where the payment is percentage of your income not a fixed number.

    The loan lady looked at my sister’s case and pointed out that for as long as she had lived with mom she hadn’t saved any money. My sister was denied but it really woke her up and she started an automatic savings account.

    We still have hope for her.

    I also lived with my mother for a little over a year after college graduation. I finally found a good job and am on my own. But it really did help to have my family’s support to get me on my feet.

  4. I did this exact same thing- the right way. I lived with my parents after college until I was 24, but I was working 2 jobs during the summers and also going to school full time obtaining an AAS at the local community college. Once I had enough money saved up and my degree completed, I moved out. They took rent in the form of groceries/cooking and the assurance that I was paying more on my student loans than was necessary. Now that I’m on my own I have a comfortable savings account, smaller loan amounts to pay off, and the knowledge that if they hadn’t been that supportive I would probably be flat on my butt right now. I also live in a different city where the urge to give it all up and move back in again is non-existant.

    Support your daughter, but not her poor behavior!

  5. My parents had a more direct approach.

    They just charged us each rent. $600 a month. And we paid for our own food, etc as well. Plus helped out around the home… A LOT.

    That made us all want to leave ASAP.. hahahahaha :)

    I still go back occasionally to stay with my parents for projects, but I still pay for my room & board.

  6. My first thought was the same as Evi – Margaret should charge her daughter rent instead of asking her to put it in savings. Margaret can keep the money aside to give back to her daughter when she moves out if she wants, which one of my friend’s parents did (he had no idea they were going to give it back).

    My second thought is something one of my mentors told me. When he graduated college he had been building a startup with a friend, and they weren’t bringing in enough money for him to get his own place. His parents told him he can live at home, rent free – for one year. At the end of the year they were kicking him out. He said it was all the motivation he needed to start bringing in enough revenue to support himself while building the biz. Margaret may want to impose a deadline once she and her daughter have discussed the situation, to make it clear when she is to move out.

    Moving back in with parents should always be viewed as temporary, by both the parents and their grown up sons and daughters.

  7. I have several friends who are now living at home for various reaosns. Some are jobless and really have no other options, some are working but are trying to save up.

    One friend comes to mind who, while he works and saves slight, I can’t envision him moving out until he’s married. The comforts of home are fantastic, and not having responsibilities only sweetens the pot.

    I am in favor and giving kids a place to stay, and I think whatever money they pay for rent should be used to start a savings account so that after a year or so, they’ll have that emergency savings and something to fall back on once they do move out.

    I think the way to motivate and get people to move on is to change the rules and show that living at home is no walk in the park. After enough time doing dishes instead of playing video games, they’ll get that kick in the pants and start their own savings plan.

  8. My boss’s son lived with her for 9 months after finding a job but moving out of his old apartment (lease was up, roommate moved, and now that he’s working full-time he was looking to purchase something). She charged him rent but returned almost all of it (minus a bit for food + utilities) at the end once he was making a downpayment on a condo.

    Since he had a full-time job, her goal was to keep him from getting too comfy living with her, to get him used to making these monthly payments so he knows what he can live off of on his salary and wouldn’t get into bad money habits while living rent-free, but without permanently taking money that’d make a big difference on the downpayment.

    He moved into his condo at the beginning of this month and everything seems to have gone well. :)

  9. My situation was not much different than Trent is proposing. We were living in the house that my parents wanted to retire to after my grandmother passed way. My parents charged us rent far below the going rate. Had us sign a contract. And increased the rent every year. We did that for three years while I gathered some cash together. When we did get a house, my parents gave us an amount of money close to what we had paid in rent.

    I like your idea Trent. I am going to have to keep that in mind for the future.

  10. There’s more to moving out than merely having enough money. There’s the issue of finding housing that’s safe, sanitary, and comfortable as well as affordable, a landlord and/or roommates who are reasonable human beings, obtaining furniture, dealing with utility companies, and so forth. That can all be pretty intimidating, even if you do have the money. (I say this as someone who just moved two months ago and spent an hour on the phone with the gas company this morning.) I wonder if Margaret’s daughter might be feeling overwhelmed by the practical implications of moving out, and if that might be causing her to put off doing anything (practical or financial) to prepare for the move.

    So I’d suggest that if Margaret hasn’t done so already, she should help her daughter research apartments in the area. Figure out what’s available, what’s affordable, how much she’ll need for a security deposit, and so forth. Then, based on that information, help her work out a plan for how she can save up that money. If she needs to buy furniture, maybe offer to go with her to help pick it out and get it back to her new place.

    I haven’t needed or received any financial support from my parents for a long time. But they’ve been very generous with the emotional and practical support, and I’m grateful for that.

  11. I second the “charge real rent and save it for later” idea. That sounds like a more effective thing to do. Just forcing the daughter to save wouldn’t teach her anything about the value of money. Odds are that once she did move out, she’d just drain her savings to support her existing lifestyle.

  12. My husband lived with his parents until he was 30. Only child and mother would not let go. He attending college from 16 to now, switching majors lots of times.

    They actually built him a stand-alone apartment in their new home.

    It was extremely difficult to get him to move from this luxe lake-front home into my crappy 500 sq ft apartment but I eventually got him out. Smooth sailing after that :)

  13. The bad thing about charging REAL rent and REAL utilities is that the mother is going to lose a lot of power in the relationship. I’ve lived in the same house as a landlord and when you’re paying your real share of things it’s a roommate relationship. That might not be what the mother wants. If the daughter wants to bring a boy home overnight she won’t have any say in it (due to the completely logical argument of I pay a fair and just amount to live here as your equal).

    I would suggest doing what Trent suggested. I would also go a bit further and ensure that while your daughter is acting like a child you treat her as a child. Give her a curfew, no overnight guests, etc…. The incentive to leave your parent(s) needs to also be about wanting to experience life as an adult. If she’s able to live at home (for cheap) AND act like an adult there’s very little incentive.

    I don’t mean make unreasonable rules. But I’m 27, own my own home, and have been out of the house since 17. When I travel 4,000miles to see my parents and live in their house for a week I still have rules there I have to follow that I don’t when living on my own (call in at 10pm to let them know when I’ll be back so they don’t worry, no overnight guests, pickup after myself, etc…). I don’t resent them, it’s their house and I’m their guest.

  14. As a mother who moved 700 miles to get her last child out of the nest, I have to disagree with Johanna about this daughter being “overwhelmed”. At twenty-six, this adult-child is living the life of a spoiled adolescent, with almost all of her money going to toys and very little to being a self-supporting grown WOMAN. Margaret needs to grow a backbone and give her daughter a move-out deadline. Any of the rent or savings programs are nice gravy, but the bottom line is a woman who wants all the perks of being an adult with none of the real responsibilities. I have been there. We set our son up in an apt, stocked the pantry, paid off his used car, and moved. Within a year he was living on other people’s sofas and top ramen. But then a remarkable thing happened–he finally “got” that his life was HIS concern. Got a real job, a new apt. (with roomies) started working on his lousy credit, paid fines to get his driver’s license reinstated. and is now looking for a car (the totalled the other) after biking everywhere for the last two years. Had we not acted, he would still be an irresponsible child, living in my house with free hot and cold running DSL, blowing any money on crap. Not all people learn the hard way, but THIS son of mine did, and Margaret needs to stop treating a grown woman old enough to be a wife and mother herself as a helpless, needy child!!

  15. I agree with Johanna. Moving out has a lot more to it than simply money. And although Margaret only pointed to her daughter’s poor choices concerning money, I think parents need to help with more than just money issues when their child(ren) is/are looking for their own space.

    Even if someone had an apartment in college, it’s a lot easier to find good places on/near campuses than elsewhere. Plus, students talk about which places are good, bad, etc. and it’s easy to find out the reputation of a place. Finding an apartment/house/condo away from campus can be a lot more intimidating!

  16. Trent, did you think this one up yourself or did you read about this idea in one of your books?

    I think it absolutely brilliant. In fact, I think it’s one of the best idea’s I’ve ever read on any site like The Simple Dollar, Get Rich Slowly andsoforth.

    I prefer the savings account over the charge (and then returning back). Saving is a much more positive approach then charging and therefore more likely to sustain. She will see the benefit of saving herself – in her savings account.

    The trick here is though that you should get her to save *more* than her future rent will be. Because in a few months, she will have become used to the fact that a given amount from her wages can’t be used immediately.
    So when she starts paying rent when living on her own, she will not miss that money as she is isn’t used to it anymore. And the remainder can go in her savings account.

    For example: say 1000$ saving now versus 500$ rent and 500% saving then. In both cases, she can’t spend that 1000$ from her wage and that’s what she is used to then anyway.

    Moving out is a LOT easier when you already have some money available for furniture and stuff. It will give you something of a jumpstart rather than filling one gap with another. It can have profound benefits for your financial situation and mental health.

    Do your kids a favor: make ‘em save and safe.

  17. I am 26 and an adult living at home with my mother. However, my situation is different from Margaret’s daughter’s.

    My fiance and I built a live-in apartment in the basement of my family home. We have paid off the cost of this addition in full, and continue to pay a REAL rent to my mother, as well as money towards utilities. Did I mention that I cook ALL the meals and my mother pays ME for groceries??

    On top of this, my fiance and I manage to save 30% of our income (retirement and savings goals) and live very frugally. There are no brand new ipods and clothes hanging about. I go to thrift stores for clothes, and we save up for a long time before purchasing any new items. We are saving for a house of our own someday and our wedding, which we will pay in cash with no outside help. We have no revolving credit card debt, and our credit ratings are over 800 (yes, both of us).

    Why does this work for us? My father passed away in May and my mother makes a small income. My mother tells me she doesn’t know what she would do without me. She cannot afford the house or pay her bills without our help in rent, and my fiance and I tend to the garden and house fix-up jobs which gives us an idea of what home ownership will be like in the future.

    In the past, several generations would live at home quite amiably. Our living situation works for us, and it’s been a win-win situation for all parties. I dislike all the negative talk whenever this kind of thing is talked about.

    That being said, I also have friends like Margaret’s daughter who take advantage of their parents and make the adult living-at-home situation look terrible. They are irresponsible and yet splurge on the most ridiculous items they cannot afford. Yet they are paying no rent. It is not just the child at fault here!!!

    Do you realize how often I am looked down upon when I actually feel like a very responsible adult?

    Trent’s comments and ideas are exactly what Margaret needs to do to help her daughter learn about living on her own. Well said, Trent!

  18. I’ll throw in my $.02. I’m 25 and never went back home after college. That transition was tough. The graduating college, and moving the next day. My family helped and it was still tough. The house my roommates and I rented wasn’t 100% move in ready (no fridge, no laundry). I didn’t have hardly any furniture, but plenty of things to put on or in furniture. No experience getting setup with things like gas, electric, internet, water, trash getting that all set up and understanding all the connection/install/transfer fees. Didn’t know to check the hot water heater to turn it on. The first month I spent WAY more than I was pulling in from my engineering job. If I was the type to buy new furniture because it felt empty I would have been in big trouble financially.

    The first place is tough. Mostly on the experience side, but also on the money. Draw up a plan together and guide her through the rough patches. Have at least one thing that needs to be done each day towards the goal of splitting one household into two. Its a chance to see what your daughter has become.

  19. Mom should check the cost of renting a local room on Craig’s List and charge her daughter accordingly – including the deposit and a percentage of the utilities. Move-in deposits and late fees apply every where else so should apply at home as well. If the daughter can’t/won’t go along paying her parents then she should consider moving out of their home entirely.

    The biggest gift to a child is the parental obligation of teaching them to be self-sufficient, productive, contributing members of society.

  20. Why not combine the ideas of charging rent, and saving each month. Help her find an apartment that she would like to move into right now, get an idea of the security deposit, rent, utilities to be paid, then have that as the basis for her savings each month. Maybe add a little on top, so that when she actually does move out, she is still saving money each month. She will then have significant savings once she moves out, but she will still be saving once she has an apartment, just on a smaller scale.

  21. I am more in agreement with the charging rent plan rather than policing a bank account. But I do not agree in letting the grown child get all the money back once they are ready to move on. How much money is the child costing in extra food, supplies, etc in being there? I would subtract the amount and keep it. It sounds harsh, but otherwise, you have just become a glorified bank yourself.

    AND I agree with the deadline for booting the adult child out too. I think I would begin with the rent charging with a distinct end date agreed upon– but no more than 6-8 months in the future.

    I am the eldest child and never understood why anyone would want to come back home to have to deal with rules of the house. However, my half brother ended up living w/ my dad until he was in his late 20′s- and said half brother never even went to college! I would hear all kinds of gripes from my dad whenever he visited me- but he never really took control of the situation himself. I am thankful that I was in the custody of my mother when my parents divorced and was able to basically learn early to rely upon myself when it came to finances and affording school, etc.

  22. Good post Trent. Every time I see a PF post about one of these failures to launch it makes me laugh a bit. I have the exact opposite problem, in that my folks are constantly borrowing money from me and taking an exceedingly long time to repay if at all.

    They have their own businesses but never seem to handle the finances well and are asking for bail outs constantly. Then they had a baby (my half-brother) at 59.

    I’m a 6 figure earning Chartered Accountant, who has always saved and lived below my means, and they know it. Everytime I say “this is the last time!” but when its your parents who raised you/fed you/gave you shelter its hard to say no, particularly when they have a baby (now 1 y.o.).

    Luckily I’m not married yet, I could see this being an issue with joint finances.

  23. How about charging rent, then paying half of it back when she leaves? That way the parents get reimbursed some, and the child has a motivating factor to get out of the house?

  24. “Its a chance to see what your daughter has become.”

    I think that’s a great way of putting it, Brent. I’m no expert in psychology, but all my experience suggests that if you treat a person like she’s a spoiled, lazy bum, then she’ll act like a spoiled, lazy bum. But if you treat her like a capable individual who has real aspirations for herself, then that’s how she’ll act.

    Now, it may be that some people really are just spoiled, lazy bums who want nothing more for themselves than to mooch off others in any way they can. But we don’t know that Margaret’s daughter is such a person. Margaret may not even know whether her daughter is such a person. So I think that giving her the benefit of the doubt is the best way to go.

    Moving out, spreading your wings, and gaining the real independence of adulthood should be a joyous occasion, not a punishment. If Margaret treats it like a punishment, then her daughter will view it as a punishment. But if Margaret treats it as a positive goal that her daughter wants to and is able to achieve, then there’s a good chance that the daughter will view it that way too.

  25. I can see living at home for a bit when the kid is unemployed or barely getting by. But if you have “a good job” and are 26 then its not OK. She’s been an adult for 8 years so doesn’t need to be treated like a child.

  26. Different culture, different approach… In my culture parents desperately try to keep their “babies” home:) After college, I got a job which enabled me to live in NY for almost three years. It was wonderful and I had no intention of going back home and living with my parents but my dad was furious about the idea. Although my grandparents backed me with my decision (they are supposed to be more conservative actually, right?) it was impossible to convince mom and mostly dad. After my return to Turkey we had big arguments and it took me almost a year to convince my dad that I would be living real close and I really needed to have my own apartment. Finally he gave up and started to look for apartments with me. Unfortunately all of a sudden he died due to an aneurism of the aorta. I stayed home with my sister and mom for another couple of years and later on found a job in a different city and finally moved out. I discovered that mom was actually Ok with my moving out. It was my dad who could not let me go:) He was stubborn but he was a great dad. May God rest him in peace. I think what Americans are doing is much better than what my country folk does. There are many guys who are spoilt rotten by their moms and who expect the same subservient treatment from their wifes. That’s probably why I am a single forty-something:))

  27. My husband and I are 26 with two kids and a mortgage(and no other debt). I would hate to still be living at home. I like Trent’s suggestion but I would still put a deadline on the moving out part. I don’t agree with the notion to charge rent and then return it. Especially if their ‘child’ is 26. They really need to grow up, and the parent needs to let go. Trent’s idea is good because it’s obvious that Margaret’s child doesn’t know how to save. And if Margaret just charged rent then her daughter wouldn’t learn the feeling of savings. Which is something she obviously needs to be taught.

  28. I have a different viewpoint, an asian one, I think its fine for the family to live together and support one and another. In America, its get your license as young as you can and move out as fast as you can. In other parts of the world, it is not uncommon for several generations to be under one roof. When I was young, my family lived with my grandparents, we had 3 generations in one house in Australia.

    In uncertain economic times, being under one roof can help a lot.

  29. I think the whole rent vs. savings idea really boils down to the individuals (mom and daughter). The mother wants to get the daughter out but probably doesn’t want to create a rift. Simply stating, “You now have to pay rent.” and then surprising her at the end with the money back doesn’t get across the point that she needs to be saving her money and creates the potential for a fight, which she may be trying to avoid.

    It may be more productive to make it a mix of both and make her pay ‘rent’ with the understanding that payment is due by X and any failing on the daughter’s part means she forfeits the money (i.e. repossessed). If she always pays on time she gets it back in the end (i.e. like selling a home with equity in it)…always with a deadline out there of when she’ll move out.

    Even on their own, I think both ideas are valid if you take the personalities into account and what you want the end goal to be, other than the obvious of “get out”. :)

    Great question and great ideas.

  30. Trent,

    I’m wondering what you would suggest for an almost 21-year old who’s living with his parents, has no job, and is just finishing up a 2-year degree at a community college with no plans for what happens after (this winter).

    My brother lives with my mom and stepfather – they are also helping to support my uncle in the same house. My brother doesn’t work and seems to have no personal ambition. I know it’s driving my parents crazy that he doesn’t help out at all, but my mom seems to have her head in the sand, thinking, “He’ll move out one day,” without giving him any of the skills to make it possible. What would you advise?

  31. I don’t think there has to be anything wrong with a parent and adult child living together as long as the relationship is mutually beneficial (which it obviously isn’t in this case). I have a friend who got a great job after college and moved back in with his single mother and grandmother to help THEM pay the bills, take care of the house, etc.

    Me? I love my parents and I miss them terribly sometimes, but I just can’t imagine living with them unless THEY needed ME.

  32. I bet the daughter doesn’t do her share of chores around the house either (she being spoiled and all), and that she comes and goes as she pleases. The mom should put her foot down and say that she gets 1/2 the paycheck for rent, cleaning, food, utilities, etc. If the daughter doesn’t like this, then she has 3 months to save for a security deposit and move out.

    I moved back home while taking a break from college. Being Hispanic and unmarried it was my only choice. When I did get a job that paid more than $8 an hour, I paid rent to my mom. I paid all my own bills (insurance, etc), my own extra food, paid a share of the food/utilities and help with the cleaning. I did not get that money back, and I was not expecting it.

  33. I moved back in with my parents when I was 23 and stayed till I was 25. I was employed, paid for all my own bills and food, and got along well with my parents. I was able to save just over $40,000 during that time period and the only debt I had was a $7k car loan at 4.9%. I then took a job 900 miles from my parents and was able to use that money for a down payment on a condo. Now 26, I have mixed feelings about the time I spent living with them. We got along very well and I was able to amass a nice savings, but my mother smothered me and my dad always tried to pay for me everywhere we went, even though I was trying to set a boundary with him by paying for all of my own stuff. I don’t think people need to judge others by how they choose to live. Live and let live.

  34. I really think it’s on the child. Ileft home at 18 (because I wanted to) however, I had others sibling that had no desire to leave.

    I really believe each child is different. My parents did not teach any of us about money. But I manage to shun debt and pay cash for stuff. I turned out well w/o my parents influence.

    You can teach some children everything about life and still a few will not get and some you do have to teach anything some way to will come out on top

  35. Wow, I couldn’t wait to get out of my parents’ house. I had an apartment within a month of getting my job (though, to be fair, I lived with my parents while I was job-hunting after graduation).

    I don’t like the plan of letting her stay as long as she keeps saving $500/month. If I’m reading this correctly, that means she can stay indefinitely if she keeps saving, and Margaret will to have to count on her daughter eventually deciding that she’s ready to move out. I agree with everyone who said it would be better to charge the daughter rent. If Margaret needs this money to cover the cost of her daughter living with her, she should keep it. If she doesn’t need the money, though, it would be very generous of her to put the money in a savings account and give it back to her daughter when she moves out.

    In addition, I think she should set a reasonable move-out date (long enough for the daughter to find a place to live and get her finances together). And while a 26-year-old should be old enough to do the apartment-hunting herself, it would probably be a good idea to check up on her periodically (and offer to help if she needs it), because otherwise, she might just procrastinate on finding an apartment and try to push the deadline because she knows her mom won’t kick her out if she has nowhere to live.

  36. The WOMAN is an ADULT. Lets not speak as though she is a child or adolescent. She has clearly outstayed her welcome and her current living situation is keeping her stuck in an extended childhood. Sometimes the baby birds fly out of the nest and sometimes they need to be pushed. She should be giving a move out date. Up until that time she should pay rent…which the parents keep. They should not feel guilty about charging for room and board and should not feel obligated to give any of the money back. Really, since when is it OK for childhood to last till 30? Just about any adult can afford to be independent if they have to. Get a room mate, live in less than the lap of luxury. Accept the fact that your standard of living will not equal your parents for a number of years. Just grow up!!!

  37. I would never let my parents see my bank statements, and I can imagine all sorts of issues with it – like not paying bills because facing up to Mom is more embarrassing than being late on the credit card. But I can imagine it working really well for some people, too. It does seem like the act of saving is rewarding enough that the requirement might encourage the daughter to stay instead of leave…but maybe at that point her mom wouldn’t mind.

    All the adults in the household should be contributing – and maybe the daughter is, but the mom can’t see it because it’s not financial. If that’s the case, both sides would benefit from a separation, even if it turned out to be temporary and everybody decided that living together is better after all.

  38. Rather brilliant – I just sent this to my parents regarding my 34 yo step brother who spends on taxis and junk food. If he won’t show his bank statement to them, he can show it to his landlord when he goes to rent.

  39. It’s interesting how different cultures value different things. Asian families have much less of a problem with a grown child living at home, and parents are much more willing to help their children out financially. The idea of parents charging a grown child rent would be considered a sign of a dysfunctional family. Of course, it goes in the other direction too. Children are expected to let their parents live with them and financially support them as they get older, although that’s changing as Asian gets more westernized. The culture prizes interdependence over independence. As an Asian American married to a Caucasian, I’ve had to adjust to these different worldviews and change my expectations when relating to my husband’s family.

  40. Staying longer than expected isn’t so bad. Some people want to stick around, go to school locally, go to graduate school locally, and do whatever else while saving money to finally make that big move. Obviously, this kid isn’t that type of person to plan accordingly and just blows her cash on whatever she sees fit with no regard for her future. That’s usually frowned upon for being irresponsible and not looking to take steps to become an adult. The other posters are right on, some people don’t need to be pushed out the door, they’ve already packed and are on their way once they hit 18, while others need to be nudged and threatened. Whatever works, right?

    Times have changed, the cost of living is substantially higher and no one can easily make it without a plan and some vocational or college education. It’s not so easy to just pick up and go for a lot of young people. This kid has gone to school and has a great job, maybe a good talk about setting some goals would do just fine.

  41. I could understand an adult child living with the parents if they fell on some bad luck and needed a little help to get back on their feet. But this adult child needs to grow up. Mom needs to shoulder some of the blame on this by enabling her adult daughter’s behavior. I was out on my own by the time I was 20. Before that, I did live with my parents and the minute I graduated from high school, they charged me rent and I was still subject to their rules as long as I was under their roof. That was enough incentive for me to want to move out on my own.

  42. I really dislike the people who have the mentality of “my kid is 18 they can get the Hell out of my life now” that many parents have these days. I’m not saying this is Margaret’s position but I have heard work colleagues say this, until they learn I am 27 and living at home.

    My situation is a bit different in that it’s one of those mutually beneficial situations. Housing where I live is routinely bad. I searched for apartments for months at a time before realizing that I could either pay $800+ a month to live in a tiny place that smelled like cat pee or I could pay rent to my parents to live in my childhood home. I chose the latter, of course. Some say that I’m spoiled or not living in the real world.

    I am planning on moving out at some point next year. Although there is a big reason for that (that is, if she says yes. ;-) )

  43. In other cultures, it’s entirely normal for adult children to live with their parents. I like my mother, and quite frankly, don’t see why I should move out when she tolerates me and I help her with things. I understand other people feel differently, but I don’t feel compelled to move out because some of my friends have their own places. That’s their own choice. I don’t berate them for wasting 25-30% of their income on quite frankly, subpar housing. Obviously this mom has had it, so I understand Trent’s response, but some of the comments made me cringe. Not all of hate our parents…nor are all of us who can get along with and live with our parents spoiled brats. Seriously.

    The US is so strange in that we think all adults (or perhaps family units, for married couples) should have their own households. It’s not a particularly frugal or environmentally friendly attitude. I’d rather live with my family than share a house with other people my age.

    Finally, $500 a month might be a lot to ask a 24 year old (i.e. young, lower level worker) to save per month, especially if she is contributing to household expenses already. But again, that depends on the particulars.

  44. With Filipinos its almost the opposite. In the Philippines its common to have 3 generations in one house. When I decided to move out they actually didn’t approve, but I had already signed a lease when I told them so there was no point in arguing. But I wanted to move out so bad because I was in my 20′s and being treated like a kid. My mom would constantly call when I’m out, they’d also stay up sometimes until I got home, and I couldn’t just relax with my girlfriend there. I never had to worry about food or bills and had all my paychecks for whatever I wanted but it didn’t make up for the freedom of living on my own. A few of my friends in their mid-late 20′s still live with their parents and have all kinds of gadgets, nice clothes, and toys but it’s kind of pathetic when they have to stuff it all in their room. They have a sweet flat screen and surround sound system with ps3 but have to watch it on their bed. I suggest treating your children like kids if they are still under your roof. Dont treat them like adults just because they are technically adults by age.

  45. This sounds like my sister too. She and her three kids moved BACK in with my parents over three years ago after her husband left her. They lived with my parents for 5 years after they married before they moved into their own house where they lived for 3 yrs before the separation and divorce. Her house, which was in his name only, ended up being foreclosed upon..couldn’t pay utilities and he ended up filing bankruptcy. He moved back in with HIS mom too.

    My sister works two part time jobs but has no health insurance. Her girls are on CHIPS and the youngest receives a medical assistance card. Last year, she didn’t work at ALL and collected unemployment until it ran out and she HAD to get a job.

    She does NOT pay my parents rent money. She doesn’t help out with the utilities or taxes. She sometimes chips in for groceries so basically they are still supporting her and her three kids!! My parents who are 68 and 59 are still raising children…their grandchildren.

    My sister has made NO attempt to get her own house..she could qualify for low income housing I’m sure. She has no motivation to do so because my parents have made it so easy for her to stay. She spends her money on lingerie from Victorias Secret, jeans from 7 for all Mankind. High end clothing lines.

    Oh and did I mention that my sister is the baby of the family?

  46. Also wanted to add that my sister helps out very little with cleaning and cooking. I went over to visit my parents earlier this week since it was my father’s birthday and there were a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. It just irritates me to no end how my parents ENABLE my sister. I’ve told my mother as much and she basically doesn’t care.

    I also (jokingly) said to my mother that since I am the ONLY child who moved out of their house, at age 26 when I got married over 10 yrs ago, and STAYED out, that I should get a monthly stipend from them since they are not paying to support me and my family as they are my sister and her three girls.

    I also wanted to say that when I DID live with them after I finished college, I paid them rent. I actually paid them MORE money per month than what they were getting from my sister, her then-husband and the first of their three girls!!

  47. As others have already observed and I share their view on this, this is a cultural issue more than anything else. Through most of human history grandparents, parents and children lived together under one roof (or very close by) all throughout their lives.

    In most parts of the world people still live like this (it’s called extended family arrangement) and I belive it’s a wonderful thing. So calling someone spoiled or saying they should be kicked out because their old enough to leave “the nest” is really just a western cultural bias that views the nuclear family as “the best” and most natural development of human bonding. Unfortunately I see it as a much more pathological organizational unit than the extended family arrangements.

    But to each its own.

  48. I agree that extended families can be wonderful and are a cultural norm in many places~great! But this is NOT the situation here, so please, let’s focus on THIS family’s concerns, not well functioning multi-generational households where everyone has a place and a role.

    And has been noted, this 26 year old is not ill, in grad school, or saving money hand over fist for her future home and/or goals. She is being supported by her “Mommy” while she spends her cash on toys and clothes. This is not the healthy behavior of an adult, and Margaret is doing her a diservice. My fifty plus newphew is still being supported by his mother, who is retired and in poor health, without any assets to speak of. What is he going to do when she dies and the gravy train ends???

  49. I would agree that there can be a cultural difference. But part of that difference appears to be that where the family wants the child to stay the child is not only required to pay into the family pot, but they provide direct support to the household. I get the feeling here that the individual throws some money at her parents, but pretty much has no other responsibilities with respect to maintaining the household. I feel that is the difference in that the child is still living and acting essentially as a child, and if the parents are tired of it, the parents need to step up and either have them take on some real responsibilities or move out. Is this girl cleaning the kitchen every week? How about scrubbing down some toilets, cutting the lawn, buying her own food, cleaning the litterbox, doing the families laundry (not just hers), etc.. I’ve found that parents who complain the most about the kids not leaving have kids who provide little if any house or family maintenance support.

  50. We’ve had some interesting insights here into cultural differences. In other cultures it is entirely acceptable and praiseworthy to have several generations in one household. But there are lots of choices between keeping everyone at home indefinitely and booting them out at age 18.

    Let’s not bash American culture for encouraging independence in grown children. We don’t have to be ashamed of being American. We can act appropriately within our culture and teach our youngsters to become self-sufficient as they mature.

    Margaret may not have taught her daughter the basics about managing money while she was growing up. She can make up for that now by having a series of conversations with her daughter about money management in general. We don’t know from her question whether her daughter is even aware of what things cost or how to run a household. The immediate problem may be only a symptom rather than the disease. Before talking with her daughter, Margaret could sit back and ask herself what she would really like her daughter to know about money, and then have these conversations with the big picture in mind.

  51. #8 Jonathan: I have read similar situations where parents charge rent and then return it to their live-at-home children when they move out. I think that this is a really good plan IF your kid fulfills a couple of circumstances:

    1) He or She is working and makes enough money to afford the “rent” payments.

    2) He or She is not financially responsible enough to set aside the money him/herself.

    3) He or She does not appear to be motivated to move out anytime soon (or has been living with you long enough that you are pulling your hair out)

    Good Luck!

  52. (I haven’t read all the comments, so please forgive repetition.)

    What happens if, at the end of the first month, the daughter hasn’t saved the required amount, or anything at all? That seems to be a very possible scenario, given the fact that the daughter has already proven herself a little less than responsible. And in that case, the mother has exactly the same problem, except that now she’s given an ultimatum that requires her (2) to go back on her word or (2) to do what she’s saying here she doesn’t want to do: simply put her daughter out.

    Never, ever, give an ultimatum unless you know are thoroughly ready to follow through on your threat.

  53. I agree with Patti RN. After high school 2 of our boys just wanted to goof off. Enroll in college then drop out. Get jobs and quit them. It appeared to be a game to us. So we did what we had been planning to do after they graduated college, which was to downsize. We did and they were shocked. We set them up in an apt. and within 6 mos. lost it. One of them is getting it together slowly and the other one is starting to get it. It is very painful for parents who have taken care of their children to watch them struggle and hurt. But it is necessary. I read a quote somewhere when I was a new parent. I don’t know who said it but I always remembered it. “Mothers are not for leaning on, they are for making leaning unnecessary.”

  54. I agree that Margaret needs to have some conversations with her daughter, come up with a solid plan with a timeline that they both can agree to and actually “teach” her daughter to be an independent woman. However, I do not believe that making the “child” move out as a punishment for not doing what Margaret wants is a good plan. Only a insecure/controlling parent would sit there and say ” do it my way and I’ll let you stay, otherwise you’re outta here”. That may be fine when your child is 12, but if you want your 24 year old to act like an adult, then you have to treat her as such.

  55. I sure agree with #31 and #48 who are from other countries. It seems that only in the U.S. are kids and parents so anxious to have their own individual abodes. NOT that I encourage or believe in the girl in Trent’s example of just contributing a little for groceries and wasting the rest of her income. I like Trent’s suggestion, but I still don’t think there is any need for the girl to have to eventually move out and live “alone” or with “roommates” until she marries or is an established career woman.

    But with this economy, the girl in question may not have a job much longer anyhow, so the sooner she gets saving significant amounts of money, the better, I think!

  56. I agree that simpling asking to see a bank account is (strange and) could cause other problems (not paying other bills just to see more money) and that they need a back up plan if the money isn’t there/ rent isn’t paid.

  57. I haven’t read all the comments but frequently this is not about the child. It’s about the mother. Obviously, I don’t know this mother so generally speaking….. some mothers can’t say no or they’re afraid of “what might happen” if they don’t please the child Or, the mother is getting some of her own needs met by allowing the child to stay. There is nothing wrong with having a roommate situation and one way to balance things is to up the ante. Make the child pay as much as a real roommate would. Half the rent or mortgage, half the bills, buy her own food, etc. It is not mom’s responsibility to worry about the child’s credit rating or how much the child has in savings. Mom’s responsibility is to take care of herself and ALLOW the child to endure the consequences of her own actions no matter how painful that might be for both. Mom does not need to be co-dependent or enabling. Rooming together or not the child needs to be responsible for herself.

  58. Let’s look at THIS situation: The mother said “…She does give me money for groceries and for bills…” so it seems the problem is that the mother objects to the way her daughter spends her money or she simply wants her house back. In either case it seems a conversation with the daughter about her plans is the first step rather than giving ultimatums. This opens the door to mutually creating a plan that works for them both rather than setting up an adversarial situation. It would also help the daughter start to think about her future as an adult and provide her an opportunity to explore life options. Ultimatums do not help us grow or teach us how to think logically about a situation, they only present false limited options.

  59. Although I was well on my way at 18, I agree with the previous comments about trying to work out a mutally beneficial arrangement in house versus automatically assuming that paying an outside landlord is the only solution. Why waste the money? Family members may benefit one another by pooling resources instead of paying for seperate space, daycare, cooking, cleaning, lawn service etc. Why is it “groovy” for neighbors to pool resources but not families?

  60. I initially typed a post that was very self-righteous, then deleted it when I realized that what I was really feeling was jealousy not superiority. My parents always made it clear to me that their children would move out at age 18, either for college or a job, and that they could return only as adult guests, for a maximum of one week, just like any other adult guest. After college graduation, I had some trouble finding a job (meaning a job I wanted to do) and asked to move home for a while. They said no.

    I’ve spent my entire life saying, “They did me a huge favor. I realized I had to get serious and I got a VERY entry-level job and a one-room apartment with peeling paint, and worked my way up from there.” I do think it’s a little bit true that they helped push me and made me more independent. But I also admit that I’m jealous of young people who get to “hang out” at mom and dad’s house for years and years as adults. That jealousy makes me too self-righteous about my own struggles, which were very tough, but honestly I had no other choice.

  61. I’m 24, have been married for three years, have a daughter who is 1 1/2, have “owned” my home for a year, and have been graduated from college a few weeks longer than I’ve owned my home. While technically the bank will own my home for a while yet to come, I think all of this serves as an example that I could not even IMAGINE living at home at this point (and, being married with a child, really shouldn’t unless things are really, really bad).

    I agree with your advice. My parents have a two-month rule that says children are allowed to move back home for two months, find a job, save ALL earnings from that job, find an apartment, and leave. I moved back home for 3 weeks at 18 because of roommate drama that involved police reports and restraining orders while waiting for my new apartment to open up. Every other sibling who has invoked the rule has basically been kicked out at the end of two months, though usually fairly stable when it happened.

    On the other hand, while my parents would allow me to be homeless as a result of my poor choices, they would happily take in my daughter and give her the resources she needs if things are that bad. To them, you don’t punish children for having irresponsible parents. All in all, I feel this is fair… and try to be intelligent with my money that I never need to be concerned with their rules.

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