Son Wants to Move Out

Updated on May 13, 2010
D.D. asks from Midlothian, TX
22 answers

My husband and I have had custody of his two children since they were in the 3rd and 4th grade. I have raised them as if they were my own birth children. Currently they are 20 and 19 (about to be 21 and 20). We also have a child together that will soon be 7. The oldest child has married and now lives in another country with her husband. Our son (20) still lives at home while he attends Community College.

We have ALWAYS had the following agreement with our kids about college: Live at home for two years and attend Community College and keep a job and we will pay for two years of community college. However you will be saving your money so that after those two years you can afford your own place and pay for any additional college if you decide to continue. Our first child decided NOT to take us up on this and moved out in anger. Her mother encouraged this. However after moving out of State she still expected us to pay for college. We did not and because of that we were excluded from her life (she didn't even ask her father to give her away at her wedding).

Now our son, after one year of college wants to move out. We are ok with that because he is staying in town and will continue to attend Community College (which we can afford). However, he now want US to help him pay for an apartment too. THIS we cannot afford. I completely understand him wanting to test his wings. However, financially he is not ready and I feel it is wrong for him to expect US to shoulder the financial burden.

I would like to also add that we have financially supported these kids completely their whole life (before and after gaining custody). Their mother has never provided for them except for extravagant gifts and trips. I hate to make him mad by saying no and then having him run off like his sister did, but the truth is we just cannot afford TWO houses.

Any suggestions?

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So What Happened?

Thank you ALL for your wonderful responses. After reading what everyone had to say I didn't feel like such a "bad guy". It was such a relief to read that so many other parents felt as we do.

We waited for him to get back from his bio-mother's house to see if the issue appeared again. It did, but with some amazing changes. We explained that we too think it is time for him to test his wings. We went on further to say that although we would LOVE to be able to help him in this transition there are limits to how much we can do. That was when he stopped us. He told us that he had made a list of what his expenses will be and weighted it against what he brings home each month. He also said he understands that we agreed to pay for two years of college if he lived at home, but if he stayed in town and stayed at the community college we wouldn't be out any more money than if he lived at home. He went further to say that it would be like he was "living on campus." He even went further to say that it was wrong of him to ask us to help him with rent and he has rethought that part and has found a room mate (whew!).

So this is the compromise we came up with:
1) We will continue to keep him on our insurance as long as he is a full-time student.
2) If he stays In Town and at the same Community College we will pay for the 2nd year.
3) He is welcome to come and eat with us anytime as long as he lets me know to expect him so that I cook enough food.
4) He is welcome to do his laundry at our house. However, he MUST use his own soap and he MUST call to make sure we are home.

Thank you all for your support and wonderful responses to my situation. It always so nice to discover you are not alone on this wild and crazy ride called "Parent hood."

Featured Answers



answers from Dallas on

Don't change the rules. He's known them for a while. Talk to him like an adult and tell him or reiterate what you told us. You're doing fine and not expecting too much.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Provo on

He is a big boy. Explain to him that you guys can not afford the expense of maintaining two residences. You guys can only do what you can do. I would say that if he is going to run off then there is really not much you can do. I think if you let this kind of manipulation begin now then it will get a lot more demanding from here.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Norfolk on

He knows what the rules are and so did his sister. To do something different for him as oppose to his sister would be wrong. You told them if you move out you are on your own. That is the choice he is picking. He wants to be a grown up so let him. You have a 7 yr old to raise. Maybe his birth Mom can support him with something practical for a change, but I doubt she will finance an apartment for him either. Sometimes when birds leave the nest they flounder for awhile, but eventually they learn to fly. Congratulate yourselves for a job well done!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Wow... my parents just said, "If you want to move out, you pay for it." And they didn't pay for college at all. I had a job and found roomates and learned how to pay rent. You are willing to provide him with housing... if he doesn't like it, he'll have to get his own money.

Just a word about Community College - I see one poster said they encourage their children to "think big" and so they won't be going to CC, they realize they'll have a lot of debt. I went to CC on scholarship and then transfered to University. It was a positive experience for me (not necessarily what I wanted at the time...) and with the help of my Grandmother for U tuition I walked away with a very minimal amount of debt. Everyone should consider CC if they have a good one nearby! My CC classes had about 20 people v. the same U classes with 100.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Hey, D.!
Sounds like you're doing your best to be a supportive & loving mom (BTW- I, too, became a mom for the first time through marriage & love the children I married the same way I love the children I bore). It can be so hard as kids get older to decide how best to support them & to encourage them, while being realistic about your own situation.

Unlike some others, I agree with your decision to continue to pay for community college even if your son moves out. My husband & I believe in supporting those behaviors we agree with wherever we can. I can understand your son's desire for a place of his own -- totally normal (& shows you've done a good job in giving him confidence & independence). On the other hand, one of the hard lessons kids learn is that wanting & needing are 2 different things. Another is that, when what we want & what we can afford are different, we need to really pay attention to what we can afford -- and come up with a plan to afford what we want. Maybe he needs a sit-down with you guys where you can explain what you can afford & what you're willing to pay for (sometimes, even if we can afford something it's not in our children's best interest to give it to them).

We had a similar situation with our oldest girl. We showed her our utility bills & other household expenses & had her call about apartments so she could see realistically what things cost. We came up with some reasonable figures & helped her figure out whether or not she could afford to move out. Ultimately, we all worked out a plan. She worked part time & paid us "rent" which we saved for her. The agreement was that, if she paid us in full & on time each week, we'd save the $ for her toward moving out. If she was late or underpaid, we kept an agreed upon amount. This helped her establish good habits, understand the importance of paying her bills on time and gave her a small nest egg so that she could get started on her own is a sensible & prepared way.

Whatever you decide, teaching clear communication is important. I believe you can handle ugly situations well, if you communicate your limits clearly, with love & without rancor. Best wishes to all of you. I'm sure you'll work it out.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I believe it's unfair of you to even consider paying for his college if he moves out. You made the rule for the older daughter and she left mad. So be it. Don't allow that to change a thing about your rules. You put these in place a long time ago. Now because of her baby fit you are questioning your decisions and even feeling bad that you can't provide him an apartment? What spoiled entitled kids!

I promise you that the older child will figure it out someday. It seems to take a little longer for some. But they do figure these things out.

DON'T pay for his apartment, DON'T give it another thought and DON'T pay for his school if he is trying to CHANGE the rules.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Not only was it a generous offer to pay for college while he still lives at home for 2 years, but also very wise to make the conditions clear right from the start. He may be playing upon emotions that he has seen you go through with his sister. Remind him that your offer was to pay for community college while living at home because you cannot afford to pay for any more than that. If he is unable to afford an apartment he needs to find a roommate or stay at home while he saves more money.
I'm sure he's wanting to "spread his wings", not have to answer to anyone, etc.--we've all been there and many don't want to listen to reason. Perhaps a family meeting to discuss his options so that he will clearly understand what's next. By the way, my parents made the same offer although I don't know how they afforded that with 6 kids! Of the 4 who took them up on this offer, 3 continued and got college degrees.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

have you talked to him about this? explained everything you just explained here? he's 19 years old, he's not a kid, he should be able to understand the words, "we cannot afford it." shouldn't he? i understand you're scared he will take off like his sister did, but give him some credit and have this discussion with him, as an adult. good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dayton on

Hi D.,

First of all, let me say that I admire you alot. I always think it's pretty special anytime someone comes in and makes the choice to become a part of a family that was already there but has been damaged or torn apart by a divorce. It can be a difficult and thankless job to be the custodial step parent, but often times those step parents are the "real" ones and they MAKE that family. I know that's the case in our situation and it sounds like that's the case in yours. So, ((hugs)) and smiles to you and lots of blessings because it's obvious you care deeply for these kids and make no distinction.

I agree that you should stick to your guns on this, but I also think it's time to offer him a reality check. Do some research and find out the average rent for a place for him that is convenient to work and school. Write up a mock budget that includes rent, utilities, internet because he'll want and need it for school, cell phone, home phone if he expects to have one, car payment, car insurance, renters insurance and everything he will need including miscellaneous for bus fare if his car breaks down, savings for things like car repairs or emergencies. Show him how much money he will need to have, how much he will have to work to sustain his living arrangements. Then offer full disclosure and show him your budget so he sees where the money goes.

It's not that you owe him an explanation as much as an education on exactly what he is asking for and what he's setting himself up for. We did this with our son and his tune changed because while he wanted the "independence" he wasn't ready to pay the price for it.

Hope this helps, and thanks again,


2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Be honest. Tell him the truth. "We will continue to pay for community college but we can not afford to pay for your apartment too." He will need to make whatever decision he needs to make.

No guilt necessary. He will need to figure out how he can afford an apartment of his own without you. That is what adults do. No need for guilt or preaching on your part. It is what it is and he will have to live with his decisions.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

If he moves out and doesn't stick with the agreement you had, I wouldn't pay for his college either. You didn't pay for his sisters school, why would you pay for his? Just b/c he is in state?
Living on your own is just that, doing it on your own. If he is going to get mad and run off just b/c you cannot afford his apt, let him do that. They will both grow up and realize how good they had it at home. Stick to your guns, it will only help them in the real world. Good luck to you and your family!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

that's the same deal we have with our kids. you are doing exactly what i would suggest, continuing to pay for his CC but he's on his own for an apartment. he has the option to continue living at home if he can't afford that. i'm so sorry your daughter reacted the way she did, but that is not a reason to change the rules for your son.
i hope he sees that you are doing right by him. i hope your older child eventually comes around too.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My kids all went thru this. Stick to your guns. make it clear you will pay for the community college period. However also maybe make it clear that if/when he moves out when /if he moves back in he will be paying you rent as if he is able to afford to pay it outside the house he can pay it when he moves back in. my neighbor did this. but what she did was put t he money her kids paid in rent into an account and then used it towards their college/wedding etc..

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

Why should you pay for him to have his own place. He has a home that costs him nothing, and food, school....... Stick to your guns. You are doing very well by him. Even if he doesn't realize it right now, he will in time.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Joplin on

You are the parent you set the rules, I would have never expected my parents to pay my rent! Roommates are not even always a reliable option. I would say sit down and be honest and if he is set on moving out have him show you how he can afford this, being on a budget is important, he doesn't want to screw up his credit by signing a lease he can't afford. I do agree with supporting in smaller ways like inviting him to have dinner with you or do laundry but there still needs to be ground rules, and my parents rules ( Which were GOOD ones) if you move out you relinquish the key and you visit during Normal hours...also when you live under your parents roof you abide by their rules...its fool proof really.
Good Luck, I can sympathize with your not wanting to alienate your grown child, but rules are rules.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I'm so sorry for your struggle, but be honest with your step son......If you can't afford it... you can't afford it.

However, is there any sort of compromise you can offer? Let him know you want to help him be successful within your means. For example, can he come home for meals and to do laundry? Will you pay for any repairs on his car? Or pay for some gas? Be clear about what you can and can't do, and what will be his responsibility.

Write it out in a contract if necessary to be sure there is no mis-understanding later. That way, if things don't work out, but you keep your end of the bargain, he will have no one to blame but himself because he agreed to it. His signature on a contract is something he can't argue with.

Help him list all the financial obligations he will have and then don't tell him he can't do it. Ask him how he will do it. But sit down with him and treat him seriously about his choices.

If he is insistent on moving out see if you can't find a compromise that you both can live with. Don't co-sign his lease, however. Tell him the truth. You love him but you can't afford to be responsible for the lease if he were to lose his job. You trust him but the economic climate is tough.

Keep the door open for him to move back if the financial burden becomes too tough. Don't judge him or say told you so if that happens. Pay for his schooling as if he were at home. If possible, agree to help him beyond the first two years as a reward for taking care of himself and working with you. Do your best to keep him moving towards a degree and avoid his giving up, while taking care of your own needs too.

I'm so sorry for the way things happened with your step daughter. Do whatever you can to mend fences. Try to call or send letters regularly. If you haven't sent a heartfelt message, do it, and encourage her Dad. You can't make her talk to you, but don't stop trying.

Whatever you do don't mention your step sons mom. Our kids try very hard to get what they want by making us afraid. Don't go there. You can't help it if he gets mad, but you can do your best to treat him like an adult and compromise where possible. As an adult he is responsible for his own successes.....and failures.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Sounds like his choices based on your past agreement was either A.) You pay for 2 years of comMunity college while they live free under your roof or B.) You will pay for community college and that's it should he decide to move out.
I'd stick to my guns. The same rule will most likely apply to your 7 yo right?
There's a lot more cost involved in getting an apartment than just the monthly rent.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

Children learn by example. My daughter gets very jealous of her kids that we are raising when I have to tell her that the money I have extra each month goes to them. She doesn't understand and gets very angry when I can't take her to McDonalds every few days because she spent her money on other stuff and now can't afford food for herself. Her children we are raising don't get to go out to eat very often and then it's usually Perkins where they eat free with our meals being paid for.

I say when you sit down with him that you have a simple pie chart or budget example and show him...this amount of our money goes to the household budget, this amount goes for groceries, this amount to you, we can spend it on school or for rent, whatever you have told him in the past..."the percentages can't really be adjusted to pay rent and school for you and we have said if you live at home we'll help with college". My daughter has no concept of a budget but when I put out a pie chart or percentages that go for what, (without actual dollar amounts, it's none of her business how much we make, it is our money after all) then she can't really argue with that.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Is he using his sister moving out as kinda like blackmail? I like the idea of talking to him and being up front. We do not have the extra complication of our son being from a previous marriage, but our's moved out after his second year in community college and went to 4 year. I was very worried that it would not be good for him, but I have been surprised as he has really matured. He is more focused and doing better and yes he does work. Also, have yall checked in to FAFSA?


answers from Albany on

My ex-husband and I have been apart for almost four years. We have three extremely bright children, the oldest of which will be going away to a private college in August. Although he has scholarships, the tuition is really too much for any middle income family. My ex will be taking a loan for less than half of the costs, my son will be borrowing the rest. With college loans he can borrow cost of living expenses as well. He is a very focused student and will likely graduate with job offers with salaries higher than his father will make in his lifetime. We have always aimed high and taught them to think BIG, community college will not be an option for any of them. They have never expected a 'free-ride', they understand they will be graduating with substantial debt, even with some help from Dad. I'm not sure it's appropriate to pay your childs entire college tuition, much less living expenses, this creates a feeling of entitlement for them.....I'm thinking your son will need to take out a few loans of his own if he needs living expenses in addition to tuition and fees, or live with mom and dad with mom and dad's rules......I think you're generous enough, love him and appreciate him but stop doing for him things he CAN do himself!



answers from Gainesville on

he can get financial aide and do his own thing. It will be harder, but if its what he wants to do then he needs to get loans, find a cheap apt and move out. its cool that you are paying for two years of school and giving him room and board for two years, mine wouldnt even do that. They never planned on spending a penny on college for me, and it was up to me to pay for everything.

See if you can meet in the middle. Maybe you can continue his education and he can take the responsibility of getting a job and paying his own rent. He will learn very quickly how fortunate he is to have free room and board. : ) man id be sooo rich if I didnt have to pay rent : )



answers from Dallas on

I think K N said it best!!

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