Sunday, February 28, 2016

"HEY, MOM' I'M BACK!!!!"

You walk in the door after a busy day out running errands or working.  You are thinking of a quiet glass of wine with your feet up.  Ahhh!  No kids to chase up to do their homework.  No ball games, no after-school ferrying of kids to this or that rehearsal.  Life is good.  Then as you let yourself in the house, you are greeted by a smiling, gangly 22 year-old with a hard-luck tale as long as your arm!

"Today I lost my job, Mom.  I can't pay my rent now and it is either move back home or go live under a bridge!"  Really?  As if such a dramatic story like that is going to melt your heart.  It really is the time to pour that glass of wine!

The economic recession has changed the face of family structures in many countries.  You breathed a sigh of relief as you waved goodbye to your adult child leaving to make their place in life and asserting their independence.  You even helped them furnish their apartment and were so proud that you had raised your child to be a fine young adult who would do well in life.

Now, not only are children coming back home to live, but we are seeing relatives moving in with their kin because their marriage has disintegrated under financial and emotional strains.  Job losses have resulted in home foreclosures and the occupants sometimes can’t even afford to lease an apartment.

I heard our local radio talk back host, Phil Valentine, saying one day that his kids were all told that when they moved out of home with a job to go to, they were not to come back.  So what do you do when you are faced with the above scenario?


1. Discuss what happened to have caused them to lose their job, their living circumstances etc.
    Where possible, coach them through what would alleviate that situation occurring again.
2. Evaluate the situation they are now in.  They often cannot see anything but doom and gloom 
    when they are not used to solving 'crisis' situations.
3. Give them a short time frame - e.g. 3 months maximum to be looking for and be situated in a new
    job.  If not, they have to make alternative arrangements for living.
4. Have them agree to pay you some money for food and lodgings, if not immediately, then over the
    next agreed upon period of time.
5. Reiterate the house rules and state they must help with household chores as they used to (or if they
    didn't way back then, make them start!)

It may seem harsh to lay heavy expectations on a young adult, but if we don't teach them how to deal
with these kinds of crises, they will never learn and you may not be able to get them to leave home and take responsibility for their own lives.  Do not go soft and feel sorry for them.  Sure it is hard, but so is life.  We have a friend who is still living at home at 50 years of age and he won't listen to any
advice from us.  His parents are squarely to blame for not making him face life's trials as an adult. You aren't doing your child a service if you continue to enable their behavior or their situation. 

The family that has moved in is already stressed out to the max. You are stressed because you as 'empty nesters' now have to reinvent yourselves and don’t have the freedom or privacy you had been enjoying.

Of course we will take in our offspring, however old they are, especially if it is the result of our country’s economic situation rather than poor choices on their part.  It is essential if you find yourself in this situation to love your family unconditionally.  This doesn’t give them 'carte blanche' to come in and take over.   It is important before any family members take up residence in your home to have a meeting to discuss issues such as a possible time frame, schooling for any children, privacy issues and how any tensions should be addressed.  Just because they are family doesn’t mean that they are entitled to any special favors in your home.  This has probably not happened to you before, so you might be confused or in a state of shock.


Kids who have had their way paid all through their lives, right up until they leave college, often have a very hazy sense of the real world.  They sometimes feel entitled, and when expectations are laid on them in a job, they think they can just walk out and find another job where less pressure is put on them to 'man up'.  Parents need to stop fishing them out of trouble or difficulties.  Our children must stand on their own two feet and become role models for their own children.  As parents, we have to let them go.  I know we want to feel needed, but adult kids have to learn to fly on their own.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families


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