Traverse City Record-Eagle

Body & Soul

November 30, 2013

Mental Wellness: Parenting and those launchpad errors

I was recently at a book signing event for my new parenting book. I had five separate moms that came up to me and joked, “Do you have a book for how to get your adult kids to move out of your house?”

I couldn’t believe that five moms all made the same comment.

Several years ago, my wife and I were boomerang kids. We were in our late 20s, married, and moving back to Traverse City. We lived in her parent’s basement for seven months. Not exactly what I thought would be the trajectory for my life. However, it was a very positive experience. That doesn’t mean that we weren’t all ready for our own space when we left.

Here are a few ways to help adult children to launch into life on their own.

Be clear and open

Parents who don’t know what they want can confuse their children. What are the parent’s expectations? When it comes to rent, free time, getting a job, going to school and behavioral expectations, being clear and open always assists in building respect and follow-through. Sometimes, implementing a “rental agreement” with an adult child can be beneficial. Even if the parent isn’t charging rent, payment could be in the form of positive behavioral expectations.

Don’t make it easy

Like water, many kids will take the path of least resistance. Every decision should be framed around preparing a young person for adulthood on their own. Life will be really hard on their own, when an adult child lives at home that should be reflected. In each family that might look different. Examples might be having them take financial ownership for cell phones, car insurance, car payments or food out.

Remember things are different

A parent is different once the adult child graduates from high school, at least they should be. Parents who help their children move toward independence tend to be able to set clearer boundaries, follow through with expectations and have less stress.

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