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A Parent’s Guide to Fostering Independence in Adult Children

The recession has made it more common for adult children to live at home with their parents. High unemployment, college debt, and housing costs are causing many young people to delay moving out on their own. If you’re a parent who wants to help your kids while encouraging their independence, these are important factors to consider.

Financial Considerations

1. Charge rent. Love means introducing your kids to the real world. Paying for housing will help them to become more responsible and understand the consequences of their actions. It’s also good for their self-esteem.

2. Let them work it off. There will be cases where cash payments are impossible. Give your children the option to contribute in other ways. For example, they can help by painting the house or completing other household chores.

3. Teach money skills. Discuss the basics of creating a budget and sticking to it. Talk about using credit responsibly and adding to your savings on a regular basis.

4. Plan for the future. Job hunting is hard work. Praise your children for making an effort. Offer advice and referrals if they are open to them.

5. Set time limits and conditions. It’s wise to support your kids in a way that gives them a better chance for success. Make it clear that you are letting them move back in for 6 months or a year. You can always extend the time if the circumstances warrant it.

6. Modify your support as needed. Strategic limits on your assistance reduce the risk of creating a sense of entitlement. It’s okay for you to change the terms and amount of aid if you think a different arrangement would work better.

7. Act in unity with your partner. Parents need to present a unified front. Negotiate between yourselves first about what assistance you can offer your children.

8. Protect your own retirement. Think long term. Covering your own retirement expenses will take the pressure off in your later years and avoid placing a future financial burden on your kids.

Personal Considerations

1. Abandon any sense of stigma. Studies show that more young adults are living at home compared to any time since the 1950s in the US. The figure has almost doubled since 1980. Rest assured that you have plenty of company and this is no reflection on you.

2. Talk things over. Communication is critical when you have more people under one roof. Address potential conflicts promptly and respectfully.

3. Draft an agreement. Put things in writing to avoid misunderstandings. You may want to lay out the key house rules.

4. Establish curfews. You and your kids probably have very different bedtimes now. Let them know the quiet hours you need. Taking shoes off by the door can also minimize nighttime disruptions.

5. Decide on overnight guests. You have the right to determine sleeping arrangements under your roof. Set aside a guest room for girlfriends and boyfriends if it makes you more comfortable.

6. Learn from other cultures. Much of the world still follows traditions where grandparents, parents and children live together. You may want to give the idea another look.

7. Enjoy getting to know each other. For however long you share the same home, there is a special connection present in parents and children living together as adults. Be open to seeing your sons and daughters in a new light.

The recession has had at least one good result in bringing many families closer together. Managing a multi-generational household is challenging, but the rewards are significant. Take pleasure in each other’s company and support your adult children in getting ready to launch out on their own.

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