Congratulations on raising your kid(s) to adulthood!
You’ve run the gauntlet and come out successful, and now you have a fully-functioning grown-up on your hands.
…so why haven’t they moved out yet?
Seriously, this is an issue that a lot of parents face, and it’s one they didn’t expect when they trotted Junior off to kindergarten.
After all, doesn’t every young adult dream of the independence they’ll have when they flee their parent’s house, with all those pesky rules and expectations?
If your kid hasn’t moved out yet, you’re probably getting more frustrated by the day.
Whether they’re eating you out of house and home, or driving you crazy with what they try to pass off as music, enough is enough.
It’s best to get them out and on their own before your relationship with them is permanently damaged.
So, again, we ask the simple question: why are they still there, and what can you do about it?
1. Are They Actually Ready To Leave?
People mature at different rates, and as a result, will have different degrees of preparedness when it comes to diving into the great big world out there.
Is your kid honestly terrified at the prospect of dealing with independent life?
Or do they have an over-developed sense of entitlement and an aversion to the kind of hard work it takes to survive (and thrive) on their own?
There are countless factors that go into a person’s overall development, and these include various physical, emotional, and mental health issues.
We may expect the average 20-year-old to be a fully actualized, independent adult, but that may not be the case if they have to deal with crippling anxiety, or a chronic health issue.
Same goes if your kid is on the autism spectrum, or if they’re going through a really intense experience.
Someone who’s transitioning gender, for example, might need a lot of emotional support from mom and dad before they’re ready to face the world.
In contrast, someone who’s been fiercely independent since earliest childhood may leap out the door as soon as it’s legal for them to flee.
Take some time to really consider why your kid hasn’t moved out yet.
If they’re a sensitive sort who gets panicky at the thought of making their own bi-annual dental appointments, they’re probably still around because they’re scared of having to fend for themselves.
If, however, they just don’t want to move out because that means they’ll have to spend their money on icky responsible stuff instead of video games, makeup, and restaurants, it’s time to prod them.
2. Carrot vs. Stick
Does your kid react better to incentives, or demerits?
If it’s the former, offering them rewards for getting out of the house may work wonders for actually making that happen.
For example, if they’re balking at the idea of moving out because they’ve been saving money for travel, you can offer to help pay for their ticket.
Or contribute toward their education, or a vehicle they’re saving up for, or a year’s worth of phone data, etc.
Take something that they really treasure or are looking forward to, and offer it to them as a reward for getting the hell out of your house so you can have some much-needed peace and quiet.
In contrast, if they only take action if there’s some kind of discomfort involved, you can get creative.
What’s keeping them around? Are you doing all their laundry for them? Do they absolutely love hanging out by the pool in your backyard?
Or are they really addicted to your magical meatloaf recipe?
If your grown-ass child isn’t leaving because they love your cooking, stop cooking.
Tell them that you’ve been slaving away in the kitchen for decades and now you’re going to spend your autumnal years living off pre-made appetizers.
If they want to eat, they’ll have to cook for themselves. See how long it takes them to move to an area that has great takeout options.
The following are an assortment of different things you can try to coax them out of the house.
Some are reward-based, some are more of a boot to the backside.
Take a look at them and determine which of them (or what combination thereof) would work best for your situation.
3. Charge Room And Board (And Set Household Rules)
This is another “stick” option for stubborn sorts who enjoy the good life you’re offering them.
Determine a cost for renting their room, plus housekeeping fees, meals, and every other service you provide for them.
If they contribute to the cooking and cleaning, it can be a bit less… but if you’re basically their cook and housemaid, charge them for all your services.
On top of that, set a bunch of rules as though you’re running a boarding house. Set acceptable visiting hours for guests, TV curfews, and the like.
If they’re appalled and balk at what you’re subjecting them to, they’ll be more likely to get out so they can be autonomous asap.
After all, when you’re a child, you have no choice but to obey your parents’ rules.
One benefit to adulthood is the ability to set your own rules and live by your own choices.
Right? Right. Moving on.
4. Get Them Help If They Need It
On the carrot end of the spectrum is the option to help your kid out if they’re sincerely having a tough time of it.
Is your child stuck at home because they’re having trouble finding a job?
They might feel really depressed about it, and having you help them out will probably make them feel like they’re even more of a failure in your eyes.
This is especially true if they really want you to be proud of them, but keep getting rejection notices (if they even make it to an interview).
If this is the case, hook them up with a career counselor and/or job placement agency.
Or, if that feels too invasive, give them a bunch of websites and other resources and let them reach out to the agencies that they feel the most affinity with.
That way they’re dealing with a helpful adult who isn’t mom or dad, but can still help them move forward to where they want/need to be.
Same goes for finding an apartment. If you want your darling offspring to be more independent, let that autonomy begin by ensuring that they find their own place to live.
Otherwise, you might face the possibility that they’ll resent you for even choosing their new home for them.
If their friends aren’t any help in this regard, get them talking to rental agents who can put together a selection of potential flats for them to check out.
Some people really are incredibly lost when it comes to these situations, and in all honesty, is that any big surprise?
Young adulthood is fraught with countless firsts, from first real jobs and flats to global travel, serious relationships, and long-term life planning.
No matter how much you think you prepare a kid for this stuff, there’s still a lot that they’re going to be navigating for the first time ever.
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5. Set Firm Personal Boundaries
Do you find that you’re paying for all your kid’s needs, from daily allowance to clothing, food, and entertainment?
If you’re doing so without them contributing a penny, and no ground rules about how you’re going to pay them back, why on earth would they ever want to leave?
Just be aware that if you suddenly cut them off financially, they might react really badly.
After all, if you’ve set a precedent and suddenly pull the rug out from under them, they’ll likely be shocked and hurt, and may lash out at you for doing so.
This is particularly true if they’ve dealt with drug or alcohol addictions in the past and lean on you heavily, or if they have a personality disorder.
At this point, it’s important to make it clear that abuse of any kind is unacceptable. Of course, this includes both theirs, and your own.
Is your kid treating your home like a hostel, bringing home friends and romantic partners at all hours of the day and night?
Do you feel disrespected? Have they ever threatened you or made you feel unsafe in your own home?
If so, they need to get the hell out asap. This kind of behavior shouldn’t be tolerated, and you have every right to kick them to the curb, and even get help from the police if need be.
On the other hand, ask yourself whether you’re being fair and decent toward this young person.
If they’re having trouble finding work, they might be depressed and despondent.
Constantly harassing them and calling them a parasite or a leech isn’t going to somehow magically motivate them into action, nor will it make a great job appear in their hands.
Determine whether you’re on the same page when it comes to providing motivation and support.
You might be motivated by someone barking at you like a drill sergeant, but your kid might be a more sensitive sort. (Or vice versa.)
6. Be Prepared To Accept Some Of The Blame
If your kids haven’t left home yet, and they’re not dealing with un/deremployment, mental/physical health issues, or a lack of available housing, there’s another big factor that needs to be taken into consideration: you.
Are you the type of parent who has done everything for your child, rather than instilling responsibility and independence?
If so, you may have done (and are still doing) them an immense disservice.
You might think you’re being a wonderfully kind, generous, caring parent by doing their laundry and taking care of all the cooking and cleaning for them, but you’re actually keeping them in a state of arrested development.
Why would they take any initiative to do anything for themselves when you’re doing it all?
What possible motivation could they have?
Chores can be annoying. Cooking can be difficult, if they haven’t been taught how to do so from a young age. Adulting can be depressing.
See the problem here?
Not only will they develop zero sense of autonomy, but if they get into a serious relationship and move in with their partner, they won’t step up and take care of their fair share of household responsibilities.
If they aren’t responsible for any household chores while still at home, they won’t learn how to be aware of what needs to be done.
They’ve never had to pay attention to that stuff before, and it’s really difficult to learn that in adulthood.
If clean clothes have magically just appeared in their closet, and food was made and available when they were hungry, they’ll be quite lost when it’s time for them to try fending for themselves.
Teach them what they need to know, and they’ll be prepared for whatever life hurls at them.
7. Did You Or Your Partner Create This Situation?
This is another aspect that needs to be seriously considered.
A lot of people benefit a great deal from having their adult children live with them.
For example, a divorced parent might feel less lonely with their adult child still living at home.
Said offspring might exhibit “parasitic” behavior, but if that kind of co-dependence has been established, it’s difficult to break free from it.
You might not even realize that you’ve done this, but are uncomfortable with the situation that has unfolded.
If you’ve guilt-tripped your kid into staying with you on weekend evenings instead of going out with friends because of your health issues/loneliness, they might be self-sabotaging because they feel obligated to stay with you.
Similarly, if you and your partner/spouse have argued about getting your adult kid out of the house – with you arguing for, and them wanting the child to stay – consider the possibility that your attempts might be sabotaged.
You might set firm boundaries, only to discover that your spouse is negating them behind your back.
This could range from slipping them cash after you’ve cut them off to telling them not to worry about household rules like curfews, or not allowing overnight guests.
8. Be Firm, But Also Kind
You’ve put a ton of time and effort into parenting, sacrificing everything from sleep to alone time to take care of your kid.
Tantrums, fevers, bedwetting, teenaged screaming matches, poor grades, anxiety during school trips… it’s been an absolute gauntlet.
Now you’re looking forward to desperately needed personal space, time to yourself, and peace.
If your kid isn’t taking the steps needed to move out, you might feel anything from anxiety to resentment.
These feelings can manifest in passive aggression, hostility, and even verbal abuse if you’re feeling particularly frustrated.
This is where patience and compassion come into play.
Please remember that your child/ren didn’t ask to come into this world. They had no say in the matter, and this place is fraught with a ton of difficulties that previous generations never had to contend with.
You may have taught them the basics that you think they need to thrive out there, but there are undoubtedly countless aspects that they’re fumbling through as well.
Home economics classes barely exist anymore, and in places where they do still offer basics on cooking and home maintenance, they don’t cover topics like household budgeting.
Nor do most high schools offer personal finance classes, nor tips on how to negotiate a salary.
Jobs and affordable housing alike are scarce in most large cities, and finding decent options for both can be really difficult… which is something you might never dealt with when you were their age.
For example, when I moved out in my late teens, my parents assumed that I was paying the same amount of rent for my studio apartment that they would have paid 30 years before.
They also had no idea what my university tuition cost was, nor why it was important to have an internet connection as well as a cell phone.
These are people who got great-paying jobs right out of college, and were able to afford a decent house on a fair salary.
Full-time job contracts that included healthcare and retirement savings were par for the course, not a rarity… which is quite different from today’s job market.
p>And age markers really can’t apply.
You might have been raised with the idea that people get their driver’s license at 16, buy a car at 18, finish college at 21, get a job immediately, then get married and start a family by the time they’re 30…
…but those milestones really aren’t realistic anymore.
The “markers of adulthood” that previous generations adhered to may very well be out of reach to your offspring for some time.
This isn’t because they’re lazy, or that anything’s wrong with them, but because modern society is far more of a struggle than many older adults realize.
Most people in large cities now have to work at least two jobs to make ends meet, with a combination of contract work and freelance/self-employment comprising their employment.
Your kid might be facing a ton of things that never came into play when you were their age.
University tuition puts many young people into crippling student debt just as they’re supposed to be starting out in life, and entry-level jobs rarely – if ever – pay a living wage.
You may expect your kid to leap out of college and into a dream job, not realizing that there are thousands of other people just as qualified vying for that same job.
Times have changed, and if you really want to help your kid be independent – and out of the room you want to turn into a yoga studio – you’ll need to be aware of this.
Communicate with your kids, determine the very real issues that are holding them back from adult independence, and help them take whatever steps are needed to sort it out.
Don’t procrastinate: start today. Right now.
The longer you wait to get this done, the more frustrations will arise.
If you work together as a family, you have a better chance for everyone to achieve their goals.
And you’ll have your own life back before you know it.