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Parenting Adult Children for Your Peace of Mind and Their Accountability

Friday Food for Thought: Creative Bottom Lines

Posted on January 17, 2014 | 2 Comments

by Linda Herman, LMHC


Last Friday my blog was entitled, “The Buck Stops Here.”  I was referring to the challenge parents face when wanting to stop the flow of “bucks” to their adult children. Today I am continuing with this theme, but  in reference to an adult child living at home who fails to meet the expectations of his parents.  What do they do if they want him to leave?

For all parents in the predicament of deciding when and how to do this, a few cautionary words:  It is important to have thought through to your bottom line.  In what circumstances will you insist that your adult child leave? Then, how do you get him or her out of the house? If you have no plan that you are willing to enforce, then you are setting yourself up for more of the same pain, while simultaneously prolonging your child’s dependence.

Bottom line requirements can be created specific to a situation.

  • If substance abuse keeps your child from moving on, then requiring drug tests for his living at home is appropriate.
  • If your adult child is prone to violent outbursts, refraining from such behaviors can be a condition of living at home..
  • If paying rent is a bottom line, then insist on his doing so on a designated day of the month.
  • If turning over his pay check or stub (so you can see where his money is going) is a requirement, you can insist that he do so in order to live at home.
  • Do you expect a certain number of job applications submitted per week by him?  You may insist on copies of “sent” emails  to employers as proof of his job seeking.
  • Does your young man sleep all day and start looking for work at 4:00 pm? You can have him leave the house when you do in the morning, and have him hand over the house keys.  Perhaps he has to spend part of his day at the public library on their computers job-hunting.  He can come back in the house when you get home

 I have recommended all of the above to parents.

The greater challenge comes in enforcing your bottom lines.  What if he just ignores you? Have a plan already in mind for his departure. When I was a guest on a WSJ video panel last week, another panelist, financial planner Katie Coombs, said a formal rental contract is a wise idea. This is absolutely true and in some circumstances is a parent’s last resort.

Here are some other ideas in planning a departure, if needed:

  • Consider another family member or family friend who might take him in.
  • Hand him a Craig’s list of rooms for rent in the area.
  • Give him a list of shelters that are available.
  • Pack up his belongings and have them ready to go.
  • Suggest that he contact friends so that he can plan a place to “flop”.

 One final thought: Sometimes parents are so worried that their child will do harm to himself or herself (e.g. via drugs) that they cannot take these final steps.  Respect your own reservations. You have to be okay enough with the plan you devise to follow through. If you are not, then it may not be the correct plan or timing. You don’t have to figure it all out yourself. Get help.


2 responses to “Friday Food for Thought: Creative Bottom Lines”

  1. Ruth Nemzoff says:

    All good advice, but the art of parenting involves knowing when it is a good investment to help your children. If your child is a hard worker, and a serious student, it might be wise to help him or her play for graduate school.

    • LInda Herman says:

      Well put. It is indeed an art and parents must use their own best judgment, often informed by listening more than just talking. Thanks for taking the time to write.

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