What Are Your Expectations for Adult Children at Home?

Updated on February 05, 2014
A.V. asks from Silver Spring, MD
28 answers

Another question got me thinking about all the "needs" and "wants" of people over 18 (mostly out of HS). What do you feel is appropriate for an adult to receive from you and why? My situation is that I have a sophomore in college SD and a graduate SS who lives with us PT. We support both to an extent. SS pays a minimal rent to stay here (and storage fees when he's not, since I can't repurpose his room). We pay for SD's apartment (less than campus housing) but she is expected to work and pay for her own utilities, food, etc. SS pays for some of his food, but we provide him dinners when he is home those nights.

I think that if your "grown" kid is asking for loans frequently, it becomes your business to get into their business about what's going on. Is it that their debts simply exceed their income or are they indulging in a cup of coffee every morning to the tune of $20-30 a week? Where is it going? My SD has spent down to her last penny multiple times and DH had to talk to her about how that means she gets more fees and ends up in the hole. We do not bail her out on this, and if she doesn't use the money earmarked for rent FOR RENT, then we do not provide her more. Most of the time, any financial aid is directly to the service provider (like the bursar vs giving it to the student to give to the bursar). But I consider things like filling the gas tank when I didn't drive it to E sneaky ways for them to get money out of us.

I see a lot of questions about adults helping other adults and what I don't always see in return is how that adult child (for lack of a better term) pays back the cheapo housing and makes plans to get on his/her feet. I will fully admit I think it's time for my SS to fly the nest entirely and not just go to his mom's house part of the year. He needs to learn to budget and plan and run a house and all that. When do you feel enough is enough? Do you have a timeframe in mind, and if so, does your son or daughter know this? I think one of our problems is that we assumed (wrongly) that SS would have a plan and quickly want to leave and never made a clear plan of expectations when he graduated. But our nest is too cozy. If I was paying a few hundred, utilities and some food included, I wouldn't want to leave, either. DH is finally having to talk to him about moving on, but it's about 2 years overdue. We will not make that same mistake twice, when SD graduates college. If you plan to let your kid boomerang, how long would you let them stay?

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So What Happened?

Oh, I am right there with you that it's time for him to move on, and actually get a place with roommates instead of making plans with friends that never happen. If I had a dollar for every time that happened, I could buy myself a nice dinner. He has way more in the bank than I do. Well enough to make a deposit on an apartment and to pay a couple of months rent. Part of my issue is that I think my DH is reluctant to push him out, so that it's taken us a long time to get to the point where DH agrees it's time for the birdie to fly. My mom said I could come home....if I worked and paid rent. I found other places to live and didn't return home after my junior year (though that summer was my choice - I had a job and sublet a room). We will support their tuition to a point - we cannot cover it all. We made that clear. So SD will have about half her tuition in loans. I think SS in particular needs to have his own house before he marries. He needs that experience.

To clarify the "storage" - SS has flitted back and forth, leaving most of his stuff here when he is living with his mother. When he returns from her home, he leaves little to nothing there. He is taking up an entire room without really moving "out". We consider it like how SD has to pay rent for her apartment for the winter, even if she spends time here. Her stuff is there. It is also a way for us to nudge him to making a decision on where he wants to live, and, frankly, recouping some of the $500 water bill that arrived after his latest stay. Remember, he is the graduate and has been out of college for several years now. We are neither a bed and breakfast nor a storage locker. He lived here rent-free for more than a year after grad before we started minimal rent.

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answers from Houston on

Six weeks to find a job and move out and stick with it. Done. I know a couple who did this with their son. He graduated and they let him move back for 6 wks to give him time to find a job and an apartment. No extensions.
If you allow adults (not adult child/adult kids) to stay for little to nothing, what is the motivation for them to move out? It is a no-brainer.

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answers from Cleveland on

I agree with Gidget and can't stand the sweeping generalizations people make that if kids don't pay their own way from the day they turn 18 or 21 they'll never be responsible. My parents paid for college and I lived with them thru summer after graduation and a couple of months after I started my first job. They actually encouraged me to keep living at home to save money but like most of my friends, I wanted to live in "the city". Kids who stayed at home were looked down on in a way... Then I lived at home about a year in my mid 20's to save for graduate school. They never nickeled and dimed me while I was living at home. And I've done very well. They in no way have ever HAD to help me. And the vast majority of my friends lived in a similar way. Actually, of my college friends, only 2 had to work very part time jobs (during sememsters, we all worked over vacations) to help with finances a little. Of the two, one has been the most flakey and least successful in her career. The rest of us have all worked hard and been successful in professional careers for years now. The successful adults I meet come from a range of backgrounds but plenty came from some wealth and had college paid for and are now in the top 1% - 5% of earners in the country. It certainly didn't make them lazy and moochers. It does happen that kids are spoiled and become lazy and moochers but from what I read here, kids who weren't spoiled also can be lazy and try to get every cent out of their parents they can. So I don't think there is a universal rule how to treat kids. I plan to treat mine as my parents treated my sister and I but if they are being unambitious and frittering away college or money, things will change. It depends on the person/young adult. Somehow there was always mutual respect in my house growing up. I respected how hard my parents worked to pay for college and that lead to me working hard to follow their example. They saw I worked hard and was responsible which made them I think happy to have me back home at time as I tried to further my education. To me it sounds like SS should get his act togther but if SD is still in college, I'd cut her a break. She's still a kid in many ways. My sister wasn't as good at budgeting at that age yet turned out just fine.

ETA: I don't mean to attack you or your question. I just get riled up when people make absolute statements about how much financial help to give kids (none) bc I really think it depends on the kid.

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answers from Albany on

The degree to which I help my kids (2 away at college, one hs junior) is limited only by how much I CAN.

But then they're awesome kids, excellent students, conscientious, and a real pleasure to have around.

The two away at school are both 100% dependents still. I expect they will probably go for master's degrees as well.

They both work part to full time jobs during school breaks, so they do have some money of their own. I would never ask them to pay any of their own bills with it until they graduate and are working in their fields. It's not likely they will WANT to live here then, they like to travel and are interested in jobs in other places. They rarely ask me for anything and are very grateful for what we do for them.

Although, I guess if they DON'T get their own place right away ( maybe a year after they're done with school?), I might ask them to pay rent.

My only angst is that I don't have MORE to give them.


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answers from Austin on

While our daughter was in college there was no way for her to work. She was taking the max classes possible and did not have transportation. , but during the summers, she picked up small jobs here in town.

Again it was hard because she was here for such a short period of time during the summer and people liked hiring the kids that actually live here and attend college here.

So she did not have money to pay towards anything. She was always saving for school.

But she did gladly help around the house, helped all of her grandparents when they asked.

Once she graduated, she moved home to save money. She was here for about 18 months. She took on clients and saved as much as possible. We gladly paid for food and anything to do with the house. She filled up the car each time she borrowed it. She paid for all of her essentials and clothing, etc.. She cooked, cleaned, etc..

And then she also gladly worked for me helping me with my business. I did pay her for her hours.

She saved up enough money that she has now returned to Mass. to live full time. and is looking for a full time job. She is able to still keep some of her clients from Austin, because she does the work on her computer.

It was our pleasure to have her home. She even purchased a new bed and a new Ikea, clothing storage system for her bedroom here at home. Also built an amazing table with storage under it! And all of this furniture is staying here. She sold her childhood furniture so she could also use that money for this more appropriate furniture. At some point she said she would decide if she was going to have it shipped up.

I think it depends on what your needs are, what your adult child is trying to do (or not do) so it just depends.

Our Cable /internet is all on one bill and since I need it for my business, I pay for that. I also office out of our home, so whether she were here or not, I would be using the utilities. The food situation was something we worked on. I have a budget so if she wanted something else, or a more expensive meal, she gladly paid or pitched in and was our main cook.

She did laundry and gladly sat and folded while watching TV.. Even hand washed!

When you are ready for them to leave, give them a date. Our daughter asked us for permission to be able to come home. She told us from the start her goal was a yea to work and save, but might take longer to save up as much as needed. This summer is when she said, I am moving up to Mass at the end of January.. And we said that sounded fine. And she did it.

Of course we miss her. But we are really excited for her.

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answers from San Diego on

First, I don't agree with the you are 18 and out on your ear mentality. An 18 year old is either freshly out of high school or sometimes still finishing up high school. There is no way they can get a full time job that pays enough to survive off of. They have had no time to get college under their belt, they have had no time to work their way up the ladder to the better paying, more secure jobs. A minimum wage job doesn't support much even when you are still living at home. Minimum wage is too low to pay for even a small amount of necessities.
When I was fresh out of high school I did have a few things I paid for out of my own paycheck. My parents got the car loan for my first car of my own as opposed to using a car provided by may parents and I paid them back for it. They redivided it so that my monthly payments were less then they were paying and spread it out more because I was unable to pay the full amount. I paid for my gas but they provided me with a gas credit card to insure that I would always be able to fill the tank even if I didn't have any cash on me at the time. I would put all my gas on the card and keep the receipts to pay them for it. I paid for food when out as well as things like movie tickets or other play items. I did not pay any rent, no utilities and food was available at the house, it was only when I was eating out. I was working full time at barely above minimum wage. There wasn't much to go anywhere!
Even when I moved out and got married at the age of 25 my parents were able and willing to help with little things. My husband was finishing getting his degree. We were still working retail, but had worked our way to Assistant Manager which still doesn't pay a whole heck of a lot. I would take our laundry to her house to wash instead of using the laundry mat. I would spend the day there and help cook dinner or whatever.
Even now at the age of 43 with 3 kids my parents are able and willing to help us in a pinch. I am grateful they were able to help us pay bills while we were unemployed. We cut what we could but you can only cut so much and we were short because it took 7 months to finally get re-employed.
18 years old is still very much a kid. You can teach responsibility while not kicking them out on their ear and having unrealistic expectations.

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answers from Salinas on

I agree with K-Bell that each child and family situation is different. I personally cannot imagine expecting my kids to be self-supporting or even partially while in college AND still get good grades and everything else they need to do for their futures. I will help them as much as I am able to just as my parents did. My home will still be their home and they are welcome to live with us as long as they are in school and respectful or if they need help saving. They may have to pay some "rent" but again depends on our situation at the time. I am not sure if it's because they are your step children, I don't have step children so do not know if I would feel differently. I just hope you have the same expectations of your non-step children/child.

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answers from New York on

this is no only about kids leaving hte nest - but step kids as well. And that's a really tough subject.
My sister has a SD and SS one is out of college, living with her mom, workingn and going to grad school. Her dad still subsidizes a lot of her life. The SS is still in college and dad still subsidizes a lot of his life too. My sister refuses to give her husbnad more than half of the cost to run the house - and his kid's expenses are his responsibility. My sister then spends money on her grown kids on her own dime.

If there wasn't a step-parent relationship it would be easier, your husband wouldn't feel like you're "against his kids" and you would probably feel more lenient towards them since you'e have a blood connection. Do you have kids of your own that you can relate about?

When I was a college student my mom (who was a broke single mom after my dad left) never charged me rent. My money went towards my expenses. Since my mom was barely making ends meet she could almost never help me out financially but she was my rock. After I graduated I didn't have to pay rent until I got a job. Once I got a real career-type job I began paying rent and helping with some of the household tasks - grocery shopping, yard work, etc. My mom never charged me for storage however (I don't know any parents who do) and I left alot of stuff when I moved out. I eventually moved back in for a couple of years and paid rent again until I moved out for the last time. (Until my husband and I bought my mom's house and I moved back in again!)

While an adult child is attending school or learning a trade as an apprentice (and making hardly any money) I wouldn't charge them. I would want them to use as much of their own money as possible for their own spendng money but I expect I'd help with food, basic clothing, etc.

As for the SS who is perhaps not motivated, or was brainwashed into thinking that if he got a degree employers would be eager to snatch him up, so he can't find that elusive perfect job - he may need a more significant nudge out of the next. Maybe a little chat is needed: Johnny, I know you're kind of at a loss as to what to do in life, or what girls is for you - but you've got to get moving in your life. We are going to nudge you out the door becuase you are too comfortable and we want good things for you which will invlove being uncomfortable as the motivation to work towards beomcing comfortable on your own.

your husband will probably not agree with you - counseling may help. It may not. But don't expect that you'll ever come to a complete agreement. But you may be able to find a work around.

Good luck. It is not easy - being a parent, let alone a step parent...

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answers from Dallas on

I am in a different camp so to speak.

Our daughter graduated HS last spring and her JOB throughout school was her grades. She is very focused on her future and the value of getting good grades. She was also in the Orchestra, Varsity Cheerleader and all AP classes so her plate was full. She makes extra money by babysitting once or twice a month for some neighbors in our neighborhood. They pay very well and 1 night of babysitting brings in $100 cash minimum. No, she does not set rates but she is known for interacting with the children and they love her.

Her car is the car I used from the time she was 12 until 16 and then she got my car. We do pay all expenses on the car. She pays gas unless she is here washing her clothes or something and my husband will take her car to get it detailed and fill it up with gas.

In August we purchased a condo for her and she is about 20 minutes from us and 15 minutes from her classes in college. Again, her JOB is grades.

I transfer a nominal amount of money into her account every Friday and that is her money for gas, food, entertainment, decorating her condo, etc. She is also on my payroll and gets a small check each month. We have her set up on payroll and she shadows me with business so she can learn what it is like to run a successful company. She has a 401k through our company as well.

We paid for the condo, we pay HOA dues, water, electric and cable. Actually, I put the money in her account and she pays it. The condo is less expensive than living in the dorm and we are not ones to rent... we believe in buying property and not paying rent to someone else.

We are covering her college education 100% because we personally feel it is our job to get her out of school debt free. She plans to go to grad school directly after graduating from college. We are SO glad we started saving before she was born!

She is not a typical kid... she is very motivated and focused. She graduated HS with honors and made the Dean's list her first semester of college.

SO... yes, we do a lot for her but we have modeled spending, budgeting, especially delayed gratification all of her life. She has a nice little nest egg in her bank account and is very frugal when it comes to spending. She thrives on responsibility and so far she is just stellar and we are very proud of her.

Our door is always open for her and she knows that. We all work as a team and have high goals for the future.

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answers from Portland on

I just wanted to give you some other ideas. Life is hard. The career jobs that kids got after high school do not exist anymore. The career jobs that college graduates got do not exist anymore! The average age for a male child to leave home permanently is currently 25. This is such a big difference from the status quo of 18 that it used to be.

I have never had that career job for more than a few months when I lost it due to budget cuts. I have a triple major BA and a Master's degree, as well as another almost finished... I can't find a career job, there are just too many qualified college graduates out there. The markets are flooded with qualified experienced people. New graduates, and even us older ones, are not having any luck finding jobs.
So, we don't know enough of what your SS is doing to know how to help you. How much does he really make? is he working full time? is he able to even find full time work? Does he stay with you or his mom because he is trying to add to that nest egg in the bank so that when he finally does move out it will be permanently?

I just wanted to let you know that the jobs and money are not there and it is very difficult, off putting, and worrying to not be able to start a career, or to be able to feel secure. Maybe you should really sit down and talk to him, with his dad there too of course. But, listen to his side, and maybe there are some things you could do or help him do to get him to where you want him to be.

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answers from Springfield on

Well, my parents paid for my Bachelor's degree. They paid tuition, books, housing, everything except spending money. And they probably would have given me some if I had asked, but I worked summers and part time while in school.

My parents very strongly believed that it was absolutely necessary for each of us to earn a bachelor's degree. Having that degree opens so many doors in the job market that are otherwise closed. They saw it as part of their job as parents to make sure that each of us earned our degree. They told us our job was to study.

My parents paid for my degree, and I see it as my responsibility to pay for my children to earn their degree.

I have heard people say that students that do not pay their own tuition and work while in school do not appreciate it. I could not disagree more. My brother and sister and I do appreciate what our parents helped us to achieve. We do not take that for grated, and we did not take our studies lightly.

Perhaps it is time for your SS to take on more financial responsibility. Personally, I did have to live with my parents a couple of times while I was working full-time. It wasn't my first choice, but it really made sense at the time. I am very grateful that they allowed me to live with them.

I don't think there is a cut & dry answer to your question. How many times have we been told we are parents for a lifetime?

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answers from Philadelphia on

I lived with my parents rent free and expense free until I got married at 26yo. I only paid for my clothing and entertainment. I saved a huge chunk of money after paying off my first car in less than a year and was able to put 20% down on the first home my husband and I purchased. I had it really good:).
My girls will be welcomed to live with us as long as they want but I do expect them to have careers.

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answers from San Francisco on

We plan to support our kids until they graduate from college. We have two in college now and one in HS so it's going to be a costly next several years. We are paying for tuition, books, food and housing with a very small monthly stipend for incidentals. We are also still paying for their cell phones. Any extra money they want for anything "fun" is on them. We have an extra car they can use when they are home. They work during the summer to earn money for clothes and other extras.
I think the most important thing during this transitional phase to independent adulthood is to make expectations VERY clear. Our kids know they will always have a home and food here, but once they graduate they are on their own in every other way. They may be sleeping on the couch or floor because we plan to downsize just as soon as the third one leaves. We won't be paying for phones or internet or makeup new clothes or gas/insurance or any of that other stuff. Making things too comfortable won't motivate them to leave the nest, will it?

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answers from Grand Forks on

Most kids around here live at home until they finish college or university and have a job. I lived at home until I graduated from college and had established a career. Nobody wanted to live at home any longer than they had to. I didn't have to pay rent, food or utilities while I was living at home, but I did have to pay for my own car, gas, hygiene products and clothes. I worked part time all through college and was able to save up money for a down payment on a house after I graduated and was working full time. I did have to live by my parents rules while I was at home, even though I was an adult.

Anyway, to answer your question, I plan to let my kids live at home until they finish university and have jobs. Then I expect they will be able to support themselves, and they will want their freedom.

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answers from Salinas on

I'm not there yet but I think it has everything to do with the particulars of the situation. Personally, I can't imagine charging my kids storage fees. If the best thing for THEM was to stay in our home then stay they would.

I think it really should be what's best for the kid. Sometimes staying free is fine, sometimes paying parents rent is best and then there are the kids that really need to go out on their own.

I would not care much about whether I could re-purpose their room or how much money they have in the bank but more about what's best for them in the long run. If my kids are pursuing something positive, pleasant to live with and staying at home contributes towards their future success then they will be welcome to stay. If living at home was impeding their growth and not emotionally healthy then time to move out.
Each child and their place in the family is so different. It's tough to generalize.

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answers from Amarillo on

I think the time for preparing your children to leave the nest or support themselves starts early in life like around 9 or 10. You can begin the talk about what you want/hope to accomplish in your life. As a parent you CAN set goals and timelines as to when they will have to leave home.

My son once told me that I owed him and he was about 19. I told I did owe him for 18 years of my life a roof over his head, food in his stomach, clothes on his back, and a way to learn. After the age of 18 or graduation from high school he/she would be attending school, getting a job or going into the military. There would be no freeloaders hanging around in my home and busting up my furniture. I wasn't trying to be rude or rough I was trying to lay out the facts as they were.

My son joined the Army and spent 4 years in. He has been out of the home 20 years now and has a home of his own and is a journeyman electrician in Colorado.

My daughter started school but didn't care for it. She has worked her way up and has become a logistics specialist for a trucking company and lives on her own and in Texas.

Children as wonderful as they are are for a season in our lives. Other species send their young off with what they need to survive. Your home is your home and the rooms if you want can be converted to your use. When you convert the rooms it sends a signal that this is our home but it is not the same as when you initially left. A futon maybe what you have to sleep on.

As my aunt said, this is your home as long as you like. Once you leave it is not. You can come back to visit but that is it. If a child is ill and needs help that is a different story. Everyone has to learn how to care for themselves and the sooner the better.

My thoughts may be old school but they work. You put the responsibility on the child to know what is expected of them and you go from there. No cushy frills and flowers the plain facts.

the other S.

PS While staying home the adult child should be chipping in paying for their expenses and helping out with laundry, meals, yard work.

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answers from Boca Raton on

My 19 year old is home - not in college currently but works mostly full-time. We do not charge him rent but that's because I see him being a very responsible, thoughtful young man. He bought his own car and obtained his own insurance. He pays for his incidentals. He eats what we eat (I also have a 16 year old).

He's building a nest egg to move out to start a dream of his. As hard as it is for me (I have an undergrad and doctorate level degree) to accept him not being in college - he's made me a believer! I see him working extremely hard.

The other thing you have here is a divorce dynamic. You and your husband need to get on the same page. Your husband probably carries some inner guilt. My son is from my first marriage, though my current husband has been around most of his life. Even my husband (step-dad) agrees with what we are doing with older son (and he's NOT an enabler of any kind).

The biggest problem I see in your post is that you and your husband are essentially not in agreement on what is best for this young man. That's where you need to start, and then take it from there. And your husband needs to parent from a position of what is BEST for his son as an adult (which probably isn't hanging around your place after he's graduated college and capable of supporting himself).

I see my son leaving home within the next year and then I think that will be it! <<sniff>>.

Good luck - again, you and your husband really need to talk and work together.

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answers from Washington DC on

I don't know since my kids are young still, the oldest is 10. I have an idea that they should be out on their own once they graduate college, but that may not happen. I think each person is so different.

I moved out at 20. I borrowed money from my parents maybe 5 times since then, and they have always gotten it back as soon as possible. They have borrowed from me the same amount of times as well. Not tit for tat, but we help each other when we can and when it's needed.

My older sister moved back in at 27 and out again about 28...maybe 29. My younger brother moved in and out until a few years ago and he bought a home. My brother just younger than him will be 27 this month and has lived at home since he got back from his second tour in Iraq (minus a one year stint at a town house with his then girlfriend and her daughter). My younger sister moved out at 22 and just bought a house last month, she's 25. All 5 of us have different needs from my parents at different times.

My parents give their 5 kids what they need when they need it, and sometimes what they want. They are better off now financially than they were when I was a teenager and they still have 5 kids at home, obviously. So you give what you can to help them get where you want them to be, but you don't enable. That's my view as someone who has at least 8 years until I'm having to make that decision.

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answers from San Francisco on

How long would I let them stay? Unless they were there for a good reason --- like they were going to school or actively working on something -- maybe a year, max?

So far I've had no boomerangs. If I did, I would push them to get a bunch of roomates vs. hanging out at home. If you have enough roomies, you can get by pretty cheaply.

My kids are expected to mostly support themselves. I provide a few things, (phone, car insurance, a couple extras) that total maybe $400 per month. But they are still in school. Once they have graduated, I will continue to help them out a little until they are gainfully employed, but after that, it will probably all be on them. I don't think I would let one of them hang out on the cheap for two years, doing not much.

Help him find some roomies and move him out. I think enough is enough about right now. It's time.

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answers from McAllen on

I can't speak to all of that, but I do believe that anyone who is frequently asking for the money that I work for and am able to "save" is subject to having me in his/her business. Even if this person has only asked me a couple of times but I know that others have been asked over time, I'm going to sit down and discuss budget, planning, minimizing, etc. I won't lecture, but this situation would not see my money without strings.

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answers from Muncie on

If the child lives at home full time, is over 18, out of school and not in college, I would expect them to pay a portion of the household utilities, the services they use and to maintain a full time job. They would also be expected to behave responsibly and respectfully within their age bracket and within the knowledge of how they were raised as children.

High school is time they need to be learning how to budget, in fact any child should be learning how the day they receive a cell or own computer with Net access.

A child, living away from home and in college, they should be able to pay for the utilities and services they use. Internet (if not provided by the school), food, cell, car and insurance, housing (if not provided). If they do not live in the dorm I would expect them to be able to pay for their apartment, utilities and services. None of the money they make a work would come back to me. It should go all to them maintaining their "home".

As long as they are being responsible with their money, I would feel fine with bailing them out whenever they came to me. Keeping in mind how often they're ask and the amounts, because too many "loans" too soon, something it up. Also in regards to coming home after school, they must work and they must help with the home's utilities and pay for their own cell, car and insurance and Net if they have their own computer. Using the family set up will require them taking a cut of the Net bill and abiding to a few "house" rules. I would think a year, possibly two would be enough for someone to save enough to afford an apartment and move out. By this time they should have a very firm grasp on how to budget and what they do and do not NEED in terms of spending.

As for meals, a menu would be planed, groceries bought for those meals, extras will be highlighted on the receipt and tallied and paid for by the one who requested them/put them in the cart.

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answers from Chicago on

Every situation is unique, and it really just depends. I know my BIL lived at home for 4 years after graduating, but he saved the entire time and was able to buy his own home. He had a plan. My SIL on the other hand has it very cushy at home and has no plans to leave and has not saved. I think it comes down to teaching the kids how to do this. They were both brought up very differently.

We never discussed finances or budgeting in the house I grew up in and 2 out of the 6 of us are the only ones that have a clue. I am very open with my kids and my 10 year old knows when she gets money she has to budget for what she wants. I get her some things, but if it is not in the budget I tell her you can use your money, but realize if you use it on X you won't have it for Y. She gets it sort of.

I think you need to teach the kids from an early age, but even that is not a guarantee, I think some just do not want to live within their means.

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answers from Williamsport on

This is a timeless fact: Young adults NEVER earn/save one penny more than they need to earn/save. And they don't pay parents back when they're just trying to get a foothold on life and parents rarely make them. If they need to support themselves entirely, they'll do that. If the need to support themselves a "little" they'll do that, and if it's family member helping, they'll always try to get away with scrimping and getting away with paying less.

Parents can enable kids to learn how to support themselves by making them support themselves. 18 years old? Buh bye for their own good. I supported myself through one year of college. I had a scholarship and my dad got a bit of financial aid but ALL my other expenses, rent, clothes, food (city so I walked and took mass transit-no car) were up to me. When I was out of cash, I didn't get to go to the laundromat or meet friends at a cafe, I walked home for a can of soup or ate at my next restaurant shift and washed my outfit in the sink. Partying in college? None. I dropped out of school because I couldn't afford the debt piling up and I've been COMPLETELY self sufficient ever since. My parents have NEVER loaned me money. No matter how broke I got, I never asked, because I was raised to support my self by 18. By my late twenties I had my own business in NYC. I HAD to work my way up out of the crappy lifestyle of poverty. I still use those survival skills from time to time even though now I'm a middle class single mom.

You don't do as much for your kids as some people do, but you do more than others. Your experience with kids taking their time to fly the cozy nest is standard.

There are exceptions like a passion for a degree that is specific for the career they are dying to get and it's impossible to work enough to pay all bills during that time. Or disability or whatever. But for the most part, the sooner kids can get out there and study and work and support themselves, the further ahead they'll be in life. If their college is non-essential to their future income (I was in art school so it would have been nice to have a degree, but not imperative-Lots of kids are "enjoying " college and then they have no idea what job to get after 4, 6, 8 years of tuition) then sometimes dropping out to work saves on student loan debt and gets career experience started faster. I went into garment industry in lower levels and learned by doing because I couldn't deal wit waiting tables anymore.

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answers from Boston on

I don't plan on letting the kids boomerang. My first response to your question is that my expectation is that my home is not their home.

Realistically, it depends on the circumstances of course. My SD and oldest son are both 16 and in 10th grade. She will undoubtedly go to college and we will pay what we can but expect her to take out loans and have a job. We will not be covering more than tuition, fees, and a housing/meal plan. If she wants spending money, she'll work for it. She will buy her own books and supplies. She will buy her own clothing, toiletries, pay her co-pays for doctor visits, etc. If she wants to keep a car during college, she can buy and insure it. Cell phone? She can pay for her own.

The path is less clear for my oldest son. He struggles in school and wants to go to college but we're not sure if that's really what he'll do. He's considering the military or I could see him working and taking classes. My expectation for him is that if he's in the military or getting some sort of education, he's welcome to stay here and pay rent. Once he's past the normal college age, I expect him to be out on his own.

My younger sons also look to be college bound and they will have the same expectations - we'll pay for what we can while they're in school and they are expected to have jobs and take out loans.

I moved back with my parents a year after I graduated college because I had a baby and they were kind enough to help out, but I worked FT, paid them $200 a month in rent, covered all of my own bills (car loan and insurance, credit cards, student loans, daycare, diapers and baby food, cell phone, internet, etc.). Staying with them gave me the support I needed during that time and allowed me to pay down my debts and save up for an apartment. I stayed for 3 years and was always upfront with them regarding where my finance stood and when I'd be able to move. If one of my kids were in a bind or just needed to get on his or her feet after college, I would be fine with a similar arrangement but with the expectation that there is an end date in mind and that I need to be kept informed of progress against the goal.

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answers from Miami on

You have very specific feelings on the subject. As long as you and your husband can get on the same page and agree with what you want to happen, then you two are good.

In my opinion, parents who don't have small houses, who don't HAVE to repurpose a room, aren't enabling a young adult by keeping "stuff" for them. Of course, if you're dying to repurpose a room, then you can tell him that he has to move his stuff to his mom's. Does she have room?

You mention that he has money for an apartment. Sounds like you and your husband need to decide on a deadline and then tell him to go find a place to live. It's really that simple. What's not simple is that you and your husband may not see him very often if he's not coming home to crash. And THAT'S what your husband is dealing with.

I do think that boys really need to be out on their own so that they don't have "mom" to take care of them. If they go from "mom" to "wife", they've never learned to take care of themselves and they'll always expect their wife to do it. This is what you need to discuss with your husband. You two could agree to offer him dinner with you once a week, which helps him (you could send leftovers home for him) and that would help your husband let go easier.

My sons know that they won't be living with us after college. And really, they wouldn't want to. I have a junior in college and we haven't reached your stage yet, but rather than let him come home, we would instead help him pay for a small room with a roommate while he looks for a job, if it came down to that. However, it would be just a nominal amount to make sure he has a roof over his head, but plenty of incentive to find that paying job so that he can not be strapped all the time. There's a big difference in cozy and not being able to afford anything.

Anyway, that's our plan. Hopefully my son will have a job coming out of undergrad. We'll see...

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answers from Baton Rouge on

My grown kid lives in my house. She does her own laundry and cooks her own meals, pays for her own phone, gas, car insurance, clothing/shoes, and entertainment, pays half of the water, power, and cable bills, and does half the housework.
Basically, I treat her as a roommate.

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answers from New York on

Not sure how we'll navigate this one, but if an your on your own once you are 18 (or 21, or 23), or you can work and or be in school and help underwrite your expenses once you are 18 (or other age) mandate will be issued, I'll be sure to let my kid know plenty early, and make sure that our finances are postured so as not to handicap his efforts.

My parents/ scholarships paid for my undergrad. I used scholarships and loans for law school. Because my parent's income assets was part of the application, I would have been barred from Fed Aid, grants, or subsidized student loans, and only eligible for priv party student loans.

If the same rules govern for our DS when its his turn, we will look into emancipating him, or advocate a gap year, or some other arrangement to help him qualify for the best terms what shortfall, if any there might be between tuition prices and his 529K.

F. B.

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answers from Norfolk on

Hi, AV:
One of the things I am witnessing is this kind of gimme, gimme, gimme, all the time now.

First of all, what is it that you need?
Second, what is it that you need that you are not getting from ss and sd?

Ask yourself these questions:
1. What are you thinking now that you realize what has happened?
2. What impact is this having on you and others?
3. What is the hardest thing for you?
4. what do you think needs to happen to have your needs met?

Now you tell sd and ss what you need to have done.

Good luck.



answers from Washington DC on

I lived with my mother while I attended graduate school and completed an unpaid internship. I did not pay rent, contribute to the utilities, or regularly household groceries & supplies. I was responsible for paying for everything else: my own transportation expenses, clothing & laundry costs, prescription medications, printer ink, toiletries & cosmetics,etc.

I was expected to keep my bedroom and bathroom clean (though everyone used "my" bathroom.), wash my own pots & pans/dishes, clean the litter box, bring in the mail, and take the garbage out daily. I helped shovel the snow.

It was not onerous though sometimes the timing of when my mother expected certain chores to be done created friction.

When I could, I did more to help out.

My mother didn't expect that I would pay her back and she didn't push me to leave. I left when my internship ended and I got a job.

I probably wouldn't have finished my degree and unpaid internship if I had to worry about working a job to meet living expenses. By observing my mom, I learned how to budget and run a household without having to actually do it before age 25.


I lived with my mother while I attended graduate school and completed an unpaid internship. I did not pay rent, contribute to the utilities, or regularly household groceries & supplies. I was responsible for paying for everything else: my own transportation expenses, clothing & laundry costs, prescription medications, printer ink, toiletries & cosmetics,etc.

I was expected to keep my bedroom and bathroom clean (though everyone used "my" bathroom.), wash my own pots & pans/dishes, clean the litter box, bring in the mail, and take the garbage out daily. I helped shovel the snow.

It was not onerous though sometimes the timing of when my mother expected certain chores to be done created friction.

When I could, I did more to help out.

My mother didn't expect that I would pay her back and she didn't push me to leave. I left when my internship ended and I got a job.

I probably wouldn't have finished my degree and unpaid internship if I had to worry about working a job to meet living expenses. By observing my mom, I learned how to budget and run a household without having to actually do it before age 25.

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