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Home » Cornbread's World » Kick em out or let them stay

Kick em out or let them stay

So I just took my oldest daughter Shira, who graduated from High School a YEAR EARLY to my sisters house in California where she is going to live and start Junior College. I’m excited for her. Yes it was hard. But after a difficult divorce with her father and me, it was a positive change for HER. And now, my youngest, Leo and I get to spend some nice time together. Just us two. Which, being the youngest, he’s never had. Of course, we miss her.

But what happens if she ever decides to move back home?

I found this really great information about rules that are great to go by if YOU have a child that ever moves back home! check it out:

Eileen and Jon Gallo, consultants living in Los Angeles who specialize in family and money issues, urged parents to have this conversation before their offspring moved back home. Once your 20-something is ensconced in her childhood bedroom, it’s harder to set up a new structure that she may not be expecting, Mr. Gallo said.

He laid out four major overarching points that parents and children needed to discuss before the young adult moved back in:

¶ What is your role in the house? Nonpaying guest or member of the family? What chores are you going to do? Grocery shopping? Cooking?

¶ What are you going to do to earn money in the short term if you can’t get a job in your desired career? Flip hamburgers? Walk dogs?

¶ What are you doing to pursue your desired career goals? Vocational training? Internships? Career counseling?

¶ When are you going to leave? It’s good to set a time limit — three months, six months, a year, Mr. Gallo said. It can always be renegotiated.

The idea, Ms. Gallo said, is “to provide a temporary security blanket with some structure.”

One of the major issues that comes up is whether returning children should pay for the privilege of living in their parents’ home.

“I would encourage parents to charge rent, or at least a token amount — not necessarily the market rate — in recognition that the adult child is adding to the household expenses,” Ms. Newberry said. “It’s good for the adult child’s self-esteem to know he’s not a moocher, and that he gets in the habit of paying a monthly amount.”

One suggestion from experts is that even if you don’t need your child’s money, you charge her a reasonable amount depending on how much money she is earning, and put it in a savings account. The “rent” can then be given back to offset living expenses once she moves out.

Jacqueline Jolie, who lives in Alberta, Canada, and writes the blog singlemomrichmom.com, discussed the issue two years ago when her 22-year-old son moved back in.

“I’ve come to wonder if I’m hurting him rather than helping him not to expect him to pay for any of our household expenses,” she wrote.

Ms. Jolie updated me since she wrote that column. Her son is still living at home, is working hard and paying her $450 a month in rent. And she’s pleased with the situation.

“All I ever wanted him to have was goals,” she said.

But Ms. Jolie said she believed there were times when young adults shouldn’t be asked to pay rent. These include if they’re going to school full time; saving to buy a house or another major investment; have fallen on hard times, like an unexpected job loss (not just quitting a job because it wasn’t fun); or are helping a lot around the house.

Ms. Newberry added her own caveat: “If they have no money, they should work it out through manual labor — not just doing the dishes but painting the house or cleaning the gutters.”

One young adult who has moved back home, Rachel Unger, said she graduated from college in 2010 and was living at home rent-free while she saved to go to graduate school. Her 25-year-old sister has also moved back in.

But she said she handled most of her own bills, including car insurance, cellphone and the dentist.

“The rules in my house remain, ‘Clean up after yourself, and do what’s asked of you to help out when you can,’ ” she said in an e-mail. “I’m also responsible for occasionally cooking dinner.”

Ms. Unger, who is 24 and lives in Montclair, N.J., said she believed the rules were fair — even the one that prohibits her boyfriend from sleeping over in her room, although he can stay in a separate room.

“It would be nice to not have boyfriend rules, but I understand that it could be uncomfortable” for my parents, she said.

The boyfriend/girlfriend issue can cause almost as much angst as the rent discussion, Ms. Newberry said. One friend of mine whose daughter briefly returned home after college subscribed to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” motto when it came to the boyfriend spending the night.

But for those parents whose houses aren’t large enough to feign ignorance, or who simply want to prevent such activity, Ms. Newberry said it’s their right.

“It’s completely reasonable to say a partner can’t stay over,” she said. “But it’s not reasonable to say to the adult children that they can’t stay over at a boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s house. It’s the difference between making the rules inside or outside the house.”

This does bring up the issue of curfew. The question is not so much whether 21-year-olds should have to return home by midnight — when in college they might have been partying until the wee hours — but whether a parent should have to lie in bed, sleepless, waiting to hear the front door slam.

“A conversation needs to happen about curfew,” Ms. Newberry said. Perhaps, she said, parents and child can agree upon a general time, and if that slips, the child can text or e-mail (to avoid disturbing the whole house) to say, “I’ll be home around 2 a.m.”

For those families who can afford it, there are other ways to help children who have graduated from college but can’t quite make it financially on their own. Subsidize their independent living for a while.

This might not suit everyone, but as my friend Naomi said, “In the long run, it saves on family therapy.”