All kinds of circumstances cause adult children to live under their parents roofs, but there comes a time to help them break out on their own. Should you give them the boot?
According to a recent article at CBS MoneyWatch, young adults living with their parents is at a 75 year high! Student loan debt and lack of employment are considered the primary reasons. But, those factors are out of your control. So, what can you do?
Should You Boot Your Adult Children Out the Door?
If you are still boarding your adult children, you have not yet completed one of your important tasks as a parent. Maybe the steps below will work as well for you as they have for me.
What Your Adult Children Need from You:
(a) Identity – You have raised your kids to have a good sense of identity: as children of God, members of a strong family – or whatever your core values are. Right? Don’t be afraid to remind them of who they are and what they are made of.
(b) Trust – If you have raised them to trust God and the unique talents He has given them, this will help to anchor them with confidence in their own ability.
(c) Faith – You need to have faith that they can act on that confidence and make their own way. If you love them, let them feel your support, so they know you are rooting for them. But, no coddling allowed!
With identity, trust, faith and love, how can they not succeed?
Here are Four Steps You Can Take:
1. Help them visualize a path to their own success.
This may be one of the most important times of your adult children’s lives. You have to believe they can overcome whatever the obstacles are, in order to help them visualize it. Hold your tongue on negative comments, as this will only undermine them. Where to start will vary depending upon the circumstances. A little inspirational music around the house never hurts either. My choice might start with Yolanda Adams – I Believe!
If there are psychological or drug issues, they need your support to get appropriate professional help. If a broken marriage or a layoff has dropped them back on your door step, this will certainly shake their confidence. But you can help them see that they still have a future. If they are high school drop-outs, insist they get a GED.
College grads are often reluctant to take a job they consider beneath them or out of their field. Yet many entry-level jobs, while not requiring a college degree, are wonderful opportunities to get their foot in the door and gain valuable experience. Graduate school is great for many young adults, unless it is being used as a way to avoid the risks of the real world. You need to be a parent, not a caretaker. Don’t allow them to be a professional student. Love them enough to help them move on.
2. Make it their full-time job to get a full-time job.
They may need to apply for jobs that are not ideal. But, they can continue to look for better opportunities while working. Accountability is key. You cannot let them skate! If they are playing video games instead of job hunting, they are in avoidance behavior.
Ask them to set a reasonable daily goal of a set number of jobs for which to apply. Review the resume and see that they get someone else knowledgeable to do so. Be sure they practice interview techniques and do online research on any company who is willing to give them an interview. You want them to go into an interview fully prepared to have good answers for standard questions. If you don’t have a computer, they can use the internet at the library.
Whatever the obstacles are, help them brainstorm ways to get around them. With persistence, most problems are not insurmountable. But, if they are not cooperating …….
3. Make your adult children uncomfortable.
If they are working part-time or in a job that will not support them, you may need to set a deadline, or help them set a goal to find a roommate. Encourage them to start getting creative. If the focus is on something they really want or need, you can be sure they will put more effort into it. Assign more domestic chores to them. Start charging for room and board. If they default, create a tally showing what they owe you and how much their debt is growing.
Make them feel the pressure so they want to get out. Change the music to something they don’t want to hear. My choice would be the old song by The Silhouettes, “Get a Job!”
Do what is necessary to help them become independent. Light a fire under them. Don’t allow the status quo to be easy or comfortable.
I take a very practical view of raising children. I put a sign in each of their rooms: ‘Checkout Time is 18 years.’
4. Give them the boot and pray!
Some kids are incorrigible. One of my siblings was kicked out of home for not living up to his responsibilities and then mouthing off about it. So, Dad just told him to take a hike, get the heck out! It is a hard thing to do. A night among the elements will usually not kill them, but it is very likely to humble them. A comfortable bed and a home cooked meal are not a right, they are a blessing. Sometimes, a stark reminder is just the right medicine.
No matter what you do, your adult children may be beyond your control. You may just have to let go, no matter how hard it is for you to see them suffer the consequences of their own actions. Pray that God will protect them.
But, you might be pleasantly surprised, too! Your adult kids may exceed your wildest expectations. And what a beautiful and rewarding feeling it is to watch them soar to new heights, all on their own!