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How to Get a Grown Child to Move Out. First, Accept Some Blame.

You’re not alone if you’re wondering how to get a grown child to move out. At this point, most Americans know an adult who lives with their parents. In fact, as of 2016, a full 15 percent of Millennials – 25- to 35-year-olds – were living in their parents’ home, according to the Pew Research Center.

young man sprawled out on couch

Is this the scene at your house? Read on for some solutions.

Unemployment (and its ugly cousin, underemployment) may have contributed to your children staying at home well into adulthood. A lack of affordable housing in some areas may have caused your adult children to boomerang – that is, leave home only to return. However, in some cases, the reason your children have failed to launch … is you.

1. Don’t Make Their Lives Too Comfortable

“I think kids are staying because parents are making it too comfortable,” said Tema “Rhymes with Dilemma” Nemtzow, a Connecticut-based licensed clinical social worker.

Adult children may have been forced by circumstances, including health woes and relationship troubles, to seek refuge in their parents’ abodes. But those aren’t the reasons they have firmly taken root.

“Parents are really giving the kids the privilege but not the responsibility of adulthood,” Nemtzow said.

2. Don’t Do Everything for Them

Parents aren’t just letting their adult children live with them. The adult children don’t have the curfews or chores of their childhoods. The parents cook their meals and do their laundry. And they allow their children to have, to put it delicately, overnight guests.

As psychologist Shavaun Scott said: “Don’t do everything for them. Why does anyone want to leave the home when parents pay for everything, and do all the work, and provide an allowance and a vehicle? They have no incentive to be independent.”

Which is why Nemtzow and Scott advise that parents shouldn’t make the lives of their adult children idyllic if they ever want them to leave. And if you’re the kind of parent who has kept your children reliant upon you, even with the best of intentions, it’s time for you stop.

3. Charge Them Rent – and Dangle a Refund

pay rent marked on calendar

Start by setting milestones. Scott suggests charging rent, then increasing it six months later.

“All parties should be on the same page,” she said. “Everybody knows what the plan is and what the incremental stages are. Make it as specific as possible, and write it down on a calendar or some kind of timeline.”

Nemtzow also recommends putting some of your child’s rent money aside – then giving it back to them when they leave. “You give them first month and last months’ security. That’s one way to get them out.”

4. Set House Rules and Stick to Them

Stay firm about your house rules. Alfred Poor, a full-time technology speaker and writer, had his adult child live with him temporarily. It worked out well, Poor said, “because the key is to respect (your children) as individuals and to expect respect in return. Your house, your rules. And if they are going to share that house, they have to contribute.”

In Poor’s case, the grown-up in question kept their end of the deal by cooking and cleaning.

5. Get Them Help If Needed

Another point to consider is that your adult child may need help in other ways. For example, Scott says, “If there’s a skill deficit that’s getting in the way, hopefully, the parent can become aware of it and get the kind of help or coaching that’s going to help them.”

So, if your adult child has job qualifications yet does poorly in job interviews, consider hiring a counselor or a job coach to help with pointers.

6. Maybe Get Yourself Help, Too

Unfortunately, getting a grown child to move out may not be as simple as setting ground rules and charging rent. Sometimes, unhealthy family dynamics get in the way.

Nemtzow explains: “If I really wanted an adult out, I would say, ‘I want you out. You have this amount of time to do it.’ If the person is reasonably adult, they’ll leave. If they say, ‘I don’t want to go,’ you say, ‘The only way to stay in my house is to go to family therapy,’ and they’re gone like the wind. You think they want to explore that? That they’re being told by an outsider that they’re being parasites?”

In the worst-case scenario, you don’t need to help your child. Instead, Scott said, “Take a hard look at yourself. Why have you created this situation?”

The parent may be getting some benefit from the arrangement, Scott said, even if it’s that they’re not alone. If this is the case, therapy with a compassionate yet firm therapist is your best bet in reclaiming your home…and the rest of your life.

Then, perhaps one day, after you’ve pried your child from their childhood home, you’ll want them to stay. For a visit, that is.

adult daughter moving out of parents' house

Success!

Where to now? If your child is ready to move out, get them their own apartment on ForRent.com (the video below might give you some ideas). Then maybe look for a retirement community for yourself on After55.com. After all that work on your kids, you deserve it.

 
What do you think? Have you successfully gotten a grown child out of the house? What worked? Or do you want your grown child to stay? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below!
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  • CarolP2

    About Carol Pinchefsky:

    Carol Pinchefsky is a freelance writer who lives in NYC with her husband and their books. You can find her work at carolpinchefsky.com or follow her on Twitter.

    Comments

    1. Clare Kerry says:

      I told my 19 year old son that he had to work and pay rent or go to school. He dabbled in both but spent most of his time partying. When I told him he had to move out, the authorities said I couldn’t kick him out because it is the address on his drivers license. When my son turned 21, I move without my son. He has been couch surfing since then with an occasional job and lots of weed. He is 22 now and calls me weekly to complain about his life.

    2. Hi,
      I successfully entertained my 26 year old son for 2 years while he whined about how “there were no jobs” (we live in a rural desert community), it was too hot (he previously lived in the pacific northwest where it rained too much and wanted to be back in the sunny southwest where he was raised) no one would hire him, etc. etc. I didn’t charge him rent in order to give him the opportunity to save his money to buy a car since bus service in our area is difficult to use reliably. It wasn’t until I was forced to move that I had the “nerve” to announce that unless he had a job and could afford to contribute to a bigger place, he wasn’t moving with us (my 19 year old daughter and myself). Very tough situation and I think parents need education and support to deal with this, especially if they have dealt with dysfunction family dynamics either growing up or in their own marriage. I experienced being married to an alcoholic who didn’t think he had a problem. I learned to be an unconditional supporter thinking that if I just undergirded them well enough, they would “get traction” and start chugging along on their own steam. Didn’t quite work out that way though!

    3. These young adults should be ashamed of themselves. They need to be independent and self reliant as their parents will not be around all of their lives to fend for them. Just not natural; will give them of sense of independence, self respect and be proud of themselves for their accomplishments. That does not mean that they can’t go to their parents for something; i.e. advice, etc. As the parents get older, the parents have rely; I hope on their children to take care of them or least help out when parents are older.

    4. Kathy: I believe you are right about the mother not wanting to be alone, especially when she knows she is getting older and doesn’t want to be alone. Tell your friend she will get used to living alone and it has more ups than downs. She will get used to living alone and she will really start liking it. You can come and go as you please, don’t have to cook if you don’t want to. Also this new living arrangement will help her son to become independent as your friend will not be around to do things for him all the time. He needs to fend for himself. It’s part of life and he will respect himself more for it. Self respect and self reliance.

    5. Hi Carol I love reading about grown kids living with parents I have a friend her son is 30 she cooks wash his clothes he has it made he will never leave he’s got it made I really think she doesn’t want him to leave she scared to live alone. I live alone and I LOVE it!! Thank You I EnJoy!!! Reading

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