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  • How to Stop Supporting Your Adult Child

    When we retire, we step into a new phase of our lives.  Many people downsize and enjoy new activities and social benefits. But what happens if your adult children are struggling financially and want to move back home?  It is a dilemma many families face. The transition to adulthood is a difficult one for many families. Many of my friends are still supporting children who are in their twenties and even thirties. They are frustrated with the situation but unsure of just how to give their children financial guidance and direction while moving them out on their own.

    I understand the dilemma. The current economic situation makes financial independence difficult to obtain. Your children are comfortable in your home, and perhaps you enjoy knowing they are safe and secure in your nest. As they get older, though, they create a financial and relational burden on the rest of the family. It’s time to push the bird from the nest. But how? Here are some tips.

    Tip #1 – Increase His Discomfort

    Home is a comfortable place. The furniture is comfortable. The routine is familiar. My friend still does her son’s laundry even though he’s 25! Why would he want to assume responsibility for his physical and financial needs? Unless you wish to care for your adult children indefinitely, you need to increase their discomfort.

    Do not give your child money. If you must, loan him money for a set period of time and charge interest. Ask your child to purchase his own food and take care of his own physical needs. If he doesn’t know how to wash his clothes, this is an excellent time for a lesson.

    Tip #2 – Charge Rent

    Out in the real world, your child will need to pay for his own housing. Your responsibility as a parent to provide housing ended when your child reached adulthood. I know it sounds harsh, but why would your child pay for housing elsewhere when he can live with you for free?

    In some circumstances your child might not have a job or any income. In that case, require that looking for a job becomes his full time responsibility. I would continue to charge him rent and log it as a debt he must someday pay. The pressure will motivate him to search diligently for work. You can always choose to forgive the debt in the future if you like.

    Tip #3 – Limit Privileges

    My friend realized one day that her son was watching cable television and using the internet all day rather than looking for a job. She was so frustrated that she removed his television and internet privileges and required he “pay to play” with the luxury items in her home. Talk about making him uncomfortable! He started seeking employment in earnest.

    Tip #4 – Their Debt is Their Problem

    In my twenties I went through a period of financial difficulty. While I was struggling to pay off debt my parents allowed me to move back into their home. During that time I was focused about reducing my debt load. They knew I was working with credit debt management professionals to get my financial house in order.

    If your adult child is living with you because of a high debt load, remember that their debt is their problem. Don’t assume responsibility for it yourself. Require, as my parents did, that your child is actively working to resolve the issue. If he resists you may need to reconsider your gracious offer of opening your home.

    Tip #5 – Get Actively Involved in the Situation

    My parents had another rule which I hated at the time but benefited from greatly. I had no expectation of financial privacy while I was living in their home. I understood that I was living there out of their grace, and I was forced to yield to their intervention. Let me explain.

    I was learning how to budget at this point in my life. Chances are your adult child doesn’t budget his money and furthermore has little desire to do so. My parents went over my budget and helped me refine it. They held me accountable to my budget during the time I lived with them. This level of financial guidance and instruction helped me get my affairs in order.

    Do you know if your child budgets? Is he living in your home and spending money more freely than you are able to? You can judge his interest in supporting himself by his habits and lifestyle. If your child is making no serious attempts to support himself, it’s time for you to step into the situation. Far from cruel, it’s in fact the most loving and responsible step you can make.

    About the Author: Melissa Cameron is the adult child of two loving and gracious parents. While experiencing a time of financial difficulty in her twenties, her parents gave her the support and accountability she needed. Ms. Cameron credits their leadership as one of the factors that helped her attain financial freedom. She gets a lot of her information on financial assistance from

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    One Comment

    1. Posted January 16, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      Completely agree with this. People can be lazy and if they can get their needs met for free and for zero effort, they will do this. Excellent advice.

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