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How Much Do We Do for Our 20 Year Old?

We have a 20 year old son who decided to leave college, move back home and work full time at my family's business. He is not planing on going back to school in the fall. He is trying to figure out what he wants to do and take a break and maybe not go back at all. I am ok with that if that is what he wants but I do not know how much to do for him. I want to teach him responsibility and don't want him to be one of the kids who lives with mom and dad until he is 40 because we did to much. I do his laundry, but he irons his clothes for work, he eats here and lives here free. Where I don't know what to do is, should he pay for his car insurance, cell phone, clothes, student loans the normal cost of living things? I feel really bad if I don't pay for these things but if I do I feel that he will get used to all the money he is making then it will be shock to him to all the sudden when he has to pay for it all, plus he does not make that much money. I know most of you have little children but maybe you can tell me what your parents did for you? All advice is appreciated! M.

After reading the post I do want to add that I choose to do his laundry. He was doing it on his own and it was just in my way the way that I do it because it is easier for me to everyones laundry together. And he is a good guy and will do anything he is asked to do including paying for his bills, cleaning, mowing, etc. I just want to know how much I should do as far as buying clothes and other bills. He only makes $9 per hour, pays his car payment and student loan which does not leave much at all so if I had him pay for everything he would have nothing left. Agian, all advice is appreciated. Thanks!!

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This is all wonderful and very consistant advice! It is VERY hard not to take care of him. If he were a bad kid or very disrespectful, stayed out late and drank it might be easier but he is a very kind and respectful guy who helps drive his brothers around and does anything asked. Clearly I have to get over my guilt and just do what is best for him and be strong doing it. We talked to him and decided that when he is 21 (in october) that is when he is responsible for it all if he is not a full time college student. I did say that it was not punnishment for not going to college but that is was because we love him and want to train him right. Thanks so much for all the responses. This site truly helps with things when you just don't know what to do. Blessing to all, M.

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I agree with all the comments. I got to live at home for free IF I was in school. If not I had to pay rent. I also had to do my own laundry as soon as I was in jr. high school. My mother made us all independant and now my brother who is 23 has a wife and a house. Teach him to budget because if he doesn't do it now he will always have trouble and never be able to make it on his own. Its best to have it all in writing. If he can't make his bills then he needs a second job. If he wants to be a man then treat him like a man but continue to teach him. Don't make him use you as his crutch especially later in life. At least if he gets in trouble when he is 30 he can't say "well you never told me!"

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If he's getting everything paid for, it will be too easy to just stay home...my brother is 29 and still at home.
You should not be doing his laundry..you need to have landlord/tenant rules. He's 20...not a kid anymore, he needs to know how to pay for his own things and if he can't afford them, then he'll learn how to prioritize and budget. Wouldn't it be nice to have someone do your laundry and pay all your bills for you? Would you want to move out or would you eventually stop appreciating it and start expecting it? If he is ever to get married, he also needs to not have the expectation that his wife will do all of those things for him. I'm not saying cut him off completely from a relationship with you..but if you don't mind him living there rent and food free, then he needs to be in charge of everything else. You're finished raising him (but of course, not finished being his mom, you can still love him but tough love has to come into play sometimes)...it's time for him to start standing on his own two feet.

1 mom found this helpful

I know how difficult this is. I watched my mother enable my brother. My own son is 18 and the transition to adulthood is not always easy or fun. You are not doing your son any favor by paying his bills. In fact, you are hurting him by giving him a false sense of reality. While he is trying to figure out what to do, whether to go back to school or not, he needs to gain an understanding of what lifestyle he can live earning $9/hour. He needs to pay for all of his own expenses, including contributing to the grocery bills. Let him know he doesn't have to pay rent for one year while he is deciding what to do, as long as he helps around the house. If his paycheck doesn't cover everything, with free rent, then HE needs to adjust his spending habits, get a second job, or go back to school and get his degree. I would encourage him to save money while he is getting the benefit of free rent. If he decides not to go back to school, when the year is up, you need to start charging rent - it can be low, like $100/month. If he balks at that, let him know he's free to find a better deal elsewhere.

None of this has to be done in a mean way. My son keeps thinking responsibility is some kind of punishment! He's catching on but it was a rough ride. I have to continully let him know that I'm helping him be a man and preparing him for life on his own.

Over the past year I have given my kids an allowance and a clothing budget. The allowance is for all their entertainment and whatever goodies they want to buy. The amount varies by the age of the kid. The high schoolers get $10 a week. They also get a clothing budget of $50 a month. They are more careful about what they buy when it comes out of their own pocket. If they blow their clothing budget on movies and CDs, they don't have clothes.

I have just started this week, giving my kids a gas allowance. I gave them each $10 in ones, and started a gas kitty. If they want me to take them somewhere, it's $1. If they pair up share the ride to friends houses - both going in the same direction, they can split the cost and its 50 cents each. Two of them are 16 and have jobs. They were shocked when I said they had to pay to go to work. They didn't think that was fair and $10 would not cover all the days they work. I told them gas isn't free just because you're going to work - and you can pay for that gas out of your own paychecks. That made sense to them.

I think if you can fork over financial responsibility in pieces at a time, it really helps them have a grasp on reality when they are adults.

Good luck with your son!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi M.,

I just turned 24 years old last month and I can tell you what my parents did for me. First let me explain that I have two kids and am currently married with a full time job, a part time job, and I go to school full time as well but I am in the same age group as your son so this might apply. My parents made me buy my own car, car insurance, gas, clothes, and anything else extra that I wanted or wanted to do. I think this is the reason I am so responsible and grew up kind of fast. To be honest I really thought it sucked at the time but now I am glad they did that for me. They are not the same way with my sister who is now 20 and let me tell you the difference is night and day. She had everything bought for her and paid for and she still goes to them for money all the time! I think if you make him pay for his own stuff now the end result will really pay off and help him later down the road. If he has trouble making it on $9 an hour then he can get a second job or get another job that pays more money. He will have to learn to figure out how to handle his money and make ends meet one of these days and it's never too early to learn that. Since you said he is a good kid then he should have no problem figuring out what he needs to do to pay his bills. At least give it a shot and if he needs help every now and then go a head and help him but I would start making him pay for his own stuff. At least the car, insurance, cell phone, and clothes. I would even make him pay the student loans, he's the one who wanted to stop going to school so he should see the effects of what that does. Which includes paying off the loans.

1 mom found this helpful

Do not feel bad for not covering HIS bills. Instead look at it as you are teaching him how to be responsible with his money and how it will work when he moves out into his own place. You will be doing him a favor by doing this.

I would charge him $150.00 a month to include food and utilities, now if you wish, you could put that in a savings account for him if you don't need the money yourself. (just don't tell him that part). He should be responsible for the car insurance, cell phone, clothes and other personal things. If he does not make enough money to pay for these things, then he should get a second job.

I'm sure that sounds harsh, but honestly it will be easier to go through the hardship of balancing money when he lives at home verses on his own, where his credit would get ruined.

1 mom found this helpful

I noticed that you have already posted your outcome but I thought I would give you one more tidbit. My parents always told us that as long as we were in school we could live with them rent free. After high school, if we didn't go to college, we had a one year grace period. After the year was up, we had to pay rent to them. This was usually a modest amount that would help with groceries and utility expenses. Since we all knew this ahead of time, we knew how to plan for the future. Most of us lived with them for that year after high school and then moved out and got roommates to help pay the bills. The younger ones also lived with the older ones that had already moved out for a little while. As for paying for the extras, they are conveniences and not necessities so if he can not pay for them himself, he should have to learn to live without them. Congrats on raising a son who turned out so well!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi M.! I've never been compelled to offer advice to anyone about raising kids, but I could tell you stories about how NOT to help your son! I won't go into details now, but my advice is, help him as much as he NEEDS it. Don't force yourself on him. Make him be responsible for his bills, but be supportive and offer advice when he needs it. And if he needs help paying some of his bills, help him, but make sure he knows you are HELPING. Even keep a tab just so he knows how much you're helping. Whether or not he ever pays you back, in my opinion is pretty unimportant. Do his laundry if you want to. Make him fold them and put them away. Keep him involved. He sounds like a pretty good kid, but even good kids will let you take care of them for as long as you will. Don't be an enabler. I know that's a term you usually hear in conjunction with AA, but the premise is the same. If you let them take advantage, even unintentionally, it can snowball. He won't know any different.
I'm the mother of 2 girls over 30. One of which lives with me along with her 3 children. So you can take my advice with a grain of salt. But I didn't realize all of this until it was too late to turn back. And it's a LOT harder to get them ready to be on their own the older they get.

Follow your heart but use your head! Good luck and God Bless!


Hi M.,

Wow, I completely understand, as well I'm sure all moms will, the desire to help our kids. But we can help them too much. Why do you feel bad? He made choices and there are always consequences, good and bad, when we make choices in life. I agree that not everyone is cut out for college and if he's willing to work in the family business, great. But part of being a future business owner is responsibility.
Both my husband and I were raised that as long as you're in college, our parents would help with certain things.
I did move back home myself for a few months and my parents did not charge me room and board. BUT, both parents were small business owners and I did ALL the laundry, cooking and cleaning at home because they were busy at work. In my husband's family your expenses were paid IF you were in college. If you chose not to go to college you could live at home, only until you found a place. But it was kind of like having an appartment. They paid rent and they always had to pay their own car insurance, buy clothes, etc. And even though it was like having an appartment, they still had to live by my in-law's rules.
I personally do not agree with charging him "rent" and putting it in an account for him. To me that's still enableing him. Does a landlord save your money for you and give it all back at the end? And I also think $50 is too little. If he isn't paying for anything else he can afford more. Again, he will never be able to find a place to live for just $50 and everything else paid for.
Our son will be 18 in August and our daughter 14 in October. I will do their laundry only if it is down for me when I'm doing laundry. If it's not down, they do their own.
We do pay for our son's cell phone, or at least it's part of the family plan. BUT he pays the $15 a month extra so he can have unlimited texts. We pay his car insurance, while he is in school, and we pay for the good student discount. IF he does anything to raise his insurance, he is responsible for the difference.

I agree with the poster who said that you are doing a future daughter in law and grandchildren a huge disservice. Plus, your younger boys are watching and learning too. You may end up with a boarding home with all of your boys and their friends because of the great deal! :)

Good Luck to you.

L. K

I can't tell you what to do, but I can tell you what not to do! My brother moved back home at 19, got a job at a local coffee shop. Mum felt bad that he was short most of the time, so she 'helped' him making ends meet. He is now 27, he still lives at home barely working at a dead-end job and my mum still pays his car insurance, his expenses, his student loans, and does the boy's laundry. He is suppose to be paying rent to my step-father, but he is late most of the time, and my step-father loves my mum, so he doesn't say anything to avoid a fight with her. The living situation is causing a huge strain on their marriage.

I don't know your son and it sounds like he is a harder worker than my brother, my family's story is for insight into a possible future.

I agree with all the comments. I got to live at home for free IF I was in school. If not I had to pay rent. I also had to do my own laundry as soon as I was in jr. high school. My mother made us all independant and now my brother who is 23 has a wife and a house. Teach him to budget because if he doesn't do it now he will always have trouble and never be able to make it on his own. Its best to have it all in writing. If he can't make his bills then he needs a second job. If he wants to be a man then treat him like a man but continue to teach him. Don't make him use you as his crutch especially later in life. At least if he gets in trouble when he is 30 he can't say "well you never told me!"

I agree with Cori. He's old enough to do his own laundry and he should be paying for his overhead, his car insurance, his cell phone, etc. I moved back home for one year after college and my parents spelled out--in writing--exactly what was expected of me. This included contributing towards groceries and the mortgage, doing my own laundry and paying for all of my own out-of-pocket expenses.

He's a man now. You are doing your future daughter-in-law (not to mention your future grandchildren) a huge disservice if you let him enter adulthood thinking that women are there to serve his needs.

I agree too. Our teenagers (16 & 16) pay their own car insurance and gas over and above going to/from school (we started them off for the first 3 months on car insurance & we give them 1 tank of gas every two weeks); and they pay for stuff they want (movies, eating out, etc.).

They also know we are going to pay for their things (licensing their cars, school gas money, a clothing allowance, cell phones, etc.) as long as they are maintaining acceptable grades and are in school (high school and college when that time is here). Once they are graduate college and/or leave college for whatever reason, they are then responsible for their lives/expenses.

We want them to learn responsiblity and maintaining their insurance and budgeting gas/spending money is why. I think a 20 year old who leaves college can do this too.

Laundry - I do it, however our 17 year old has to collect it from hampers and sort it - I wash and fold it - our 16 year old puts it away for everyone. We have 4 children total and for us this works best since the other two are younger.

Good luck!

Your not charging room and board that's a deal. His bills are HIS bills. No you cannot pay those things. I would try to get him to make a budget. So he knows what he has to pay and how much he needs. If you don't pay him that much I would consider trying to help with the student loan but that's it. And you have to have rules. If you let him start getting away with staying out, drinking etc.. it will infect your other children.

L. B

My kids are 18,17 and 15...and even my 15 YO buys anything she wants that is not a need so to speak. They also do thier own laundry....and have since they where early elementary. Rules are it can not be left in the laundry room etc...so there isn't a way it's in anyone elses way. It makes them take better care of thier clothing.
I think that some kids are way to coddled and don't feel the need to be responsible. My 18yo has overdrawn his checking account and I refused to help him out. Yes it hurt him some...but better that now then 100,000 in debt later. I would NOT really help him out as you are already housing him...My parents allowed us to move back home only if we paid rent and did not give us anything else except they did not have us buy our own food...we could eat what was there. We however other then that where on our own for our own bills/needs/etc....I think the choice to leave college for some seems an easy out of the stresses of classes and they don't think it though so making it to easy at home won't help future choices.

My parents made me pay for my own car insurance, cell phone, etc. They did not make me pay rent as long as I was working or in school. And for the laundry, I did my own laundry starting at 10 years old. Don't baby him too much because he'll soon become addicted to it and never want to leave. My husband's best friend was treated like that, and he still lives with his parents with no job or schooling. Might I add that he just turned 30!! Just beware. Good luck.

Hi M.,
I am 29 years old, and I wanted to share with you what my parents did for me. As soon as I turned 16 and got my license, I had to pay for my own insurance. That was always the expectation and it was never questioned between me or my sisters. I didn't buy a car until I was 20, but anytime I borrowed my Mom and Dad's car I had to pay gas money. (Of course, it was a little cheaper for me to shell out money for gas back then compared to now)! When I bought my own car, I had to use my money. I didn't have enough so I borrowed some from my parents and I had to pay them back. Of course when I was in school I got myself into some debt. I had to get two jobs to get myself out of it. I hated it and vowed to myself that I would not put myself in that same situation again becasue I never saw my family or my friends because I was working all of the time. When I lived at home my parents did my laundry since they had to do theirs anyway, but I knew how to do my own and if I wanted something specific washed I had to do it myself. I did try to help with this when I could. I also helped out with cutting the grass, and other chores around the house. My parents did not start charging me rent until I had a "real job"--not just working at Famous-Barr or waiting tables at Pasta House, etc. When they did charge me rent, it was only like $30 a week. They didn't want to break my bank, but they wanted me to learn that bills are due at certain times and they need to be paid. My personal opinion is that he should pay for his cell phone. This is not a necessity in life and if he is using it, he should pay for it, or at least give you some money for it. I know this was a long winded answer to your question, but I hope it helped you a little!

I would start getting rent from him, start getting about $50 a month. I have heard of parents having the kids pay room and board and putting that money away in a bank account and not let them know about it. The day he decides to move out on his own atleast he will have that and its all his money that he saved on his own not really knowing he was doing it. He needs to pay his way in life and learn responsiblities also, its the best thing to teach a child is how to get along on his/her own. Teach them to be independent and working hard at something is better than having things handed to them. I agree with the other post he needs to be doing his own laundry. It teaches them value in life by not getting everything handed to them.

I agree with Gale's idea of charging him a small amount for room and board and putting it into some kind of accunt that he doesn't know about. That way, if something were to happen and he lost his job, he would have some fall back money to pull him through. Budgeting counselors tell you to figure 30% of your income on rent, so $50 is not an unreasonable request. Make him responsible for cleaning up after himself (laundry and such).He should be making his own car, insurance, and phone payments. He will have to learn adult responsibilities eventually. As much as it kills us to realize, we won't be around forever to shield them from life. I moved out when I was 17 when my daughter was born, and moved back home when I was a 20 year old single mom of 2. My parents gave me a job and helped out with the basic needs of my kids, but I paid for daycare, my car, big purchase things for the kids (furniture, clothes, car seats, etc.) I still feel I had it very easy because they didn't charge me rent or ask me to share ny household bills. It's not a bad thing to give your kids that responsibility. My son's dad is almost 30, still lives with his parents, works full time, and the only "bill" he has is child support. He simply doesn't pay it, and I feel that a big reason behind that is because they don't expect him to do anything. He quit paying his car payment and it got repo'd, he doesn't clean his own clothes (or fold them), he won't even clean his own room. He makesour son do that. You don't want your kids growing up like tht. You know his capabilities, make him live up to some standards. It sounds like he's already got a good start because he's not laying on the couh 24/7.

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