Often when a child returned home from college or the military or never got around to leaving in the first place, you and he thought of it as a short, interim situation. But over time it has started to look more and more like a long, permanent one. Between the “gig economy,” student loans and the high price of real estate, it’s not surprising that we’ve spawned a “boomerang” generation. Indeed, as we’ve noted in an earlier post, more young adults are now living at home than at any time in the past 130 years. Sometimes it’s great, but often it’s not. After a while problems arise if your grown offspring has become oh-so comfy back in the nest, but you’ve grown weary of having a permanent boarder and there’s no set time for him to exit.
Allison Bottke, author of Setting Boundaries with your Adult Children has a solution. Although Bottke’s book basically deals with her struggles to parent her troubled adult son, her tough-love approach can be easily adapted by parents who, with the best of intentions, have become enablers, unwittingly hampering their child from living a fully functioning, independent life. To redress the situation she recommends forming a united front with your spouse. She further advises parents to make out a written action plan, sit down with their adult child to present it to him, and, finally, have him sign it, so there will be no ambiguity as to what’s been agreed upon.
Here are some of Bottke’s Do’s and Don’t’s when it’s time for your child to launch:
- Set a firm move-out date.
- Be clear about what he can take with him in the way of furniture and supplies.
- Provide a transition care package. It might include the first month’s rent and security deposit. State if it’s a loan or a gift, your choice.
- Give him his health records and a list of medical providers.
- Gift him food coupons or grocery store gift certificates.
- Include a wall calendar.
- Assemble a small file box containing copies of such important papers as his birth certificate, DMV forms, social security registration, and financial docs.
- Give him money.
- Find him a place to live.
- Pack for him.
- Cosign a lease or mortgage.
- Allow him to return home if things don’t work out.
You can decide how hard nosed you want to be. (One woman quoted in Bottke’s book even recommends changing the locks on your doors.) Or, you may find your child is secretly glad to finally have to get up and go. But if he’s resistant, remember Lady Macbeth’s rallying cry: “Screw your courage to the sticking place, and we’ll not fail!”
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