Leaving Home … and Returning … Guidelines

Most parents will experience a time when their kids are anxious to be on their own.  And sometimes it’s only because they want their own “place”, free from parental oversight.  Freedom, they think, is bliss—no one to answer to, but themselves.  And to this end, they have found the perfect job and the perfect place to begin their own life of freedom.  Life is grand. 

Then reality hits.  They’ve got to pay for this newly proclaimed freedom.  Ahhh, welcome to life.  Hmmm, not so grand. 

No matter where you and your kids live, when they decide to leave home, post high school, post-college or just post anything, there will be a rude awakening when they face the cost of housing themselves.  In particular, the cost of the deposits required.  They can’t have a phone or utilities without a deposit and the landlord will require at least two months rent in advance, plus, in some cases, a damage deposit for pets and kids.   

Getting Ready to Leave

Before they fly the coup, they should have done the math that shows what they can afford, from their present earnings, to spend on the monthly costs to live on their own.  Here’s where the “6-Ps” come in—Prior Planning Prevents the Probability of Poor Performance.   

It’s time for your kid’s first full-blown adult spending plan.  So, before they commit to the time they will officially leave the nest, call a family pow-wow.   Help them prepare for successful emancipation with some in depth prior planning. 

Ask these questions: 

¨      First, and most importantly, what dollars do they anticipate each month from their job?  This is their net, after tax, income. 

¨      What are the fixed costs of living on their own?  Rent, phone, utilities, car insurance (maybe they also have a car payment), any debt from student loans (these animals rear their heads after graduation and must be paid on a monthly basis) or credit cards and food. 

¨      What do they plan to spend for non-fixed costs? Entertainment (an item that often “blows the budget”), clothes, haircuts, gasoline, auto repair and maintenance (new tires can break their bank), gifts, vacations and dry cleaning and laundry of their clothes.  They will probably not think of renter’s insurance.  But, they should at least consider it, if they have costly audio and visual equipment and computers they are taking with them to their new place. 

¨      What about savings, church and charity?  Where do these items, from their earlier spending plans, fit in? 

Put it in Writing. . Setting Up a Lease

If you have adult kids at home, either Boomerangers or Misfires (adult kids who have never ventured out on their own), it makes sense to have a different set of ground rules.  Adult kids living at home should have responsibilities and behaviors that reflect their adult status.  They aren’t “just the kids” anymore. 

Below are a series of questions intended to serve as a guide to setting up a room-and-board status for your Boomeranger or Misfire.  There are no right and wrong answers to these questions.  Rather, they are meant to probe into both sides of the issues involved and get them to the surface.  Believe, there’s going to be plenty of times that they rear their heads; you might as well attempt to do a little planning. 

Parent’s Lease Worksheet 

1 Should rent be charged?  Yes ____ No ____

2 How much should be paid per month? $ ___________

3 Should there be a different charge if your kid is employed

 or unemployed? Yes ___ No ___

4 If employed—how much per month? $ ____________

5 If unemployed—how much per month? $ ____________

6 How long will the lease term be (weeks, months, years)? ____________

7  Is it renewable?  Yes ___ No ____

8  Will your son get his own phone, or use yours?

     Yours ____ Get his own ____

9  Will you charge for utilities?  Yes ____ No ____

10 How will you allocate utility charges, by percentage (i.e. 25% of each bill)

     or a fixed dollar amount?  I won’t charge ____ Fixed amount ____ % ____

11 How much will the utility charges be (or are they now)?

Phone _______________ Water ________________

Trash _____________ Gas & Electricity __________

12 Does your son own his own car? Yes ____ No ____

13 Will he use your car? Yes ____ No ____

14 Who will pay the insurance, maintenance and gas? I will ____ He will ____

15 If he has a car, where will it be parked?(garage, street, driveway) _____________

16 What household chores will your son be responsible for? (do an inside and outside list) ________________________________________________

17 How often do want chores done?  Include it on the list.

18 Is your kid allowed to have pets of his own in your home? Yes ___ No ___

19 If yes, who will care for them? I will ____ He will ____

20 Will he eat only the food he buys, or will he consume yours?

    His only ___ Parents ___

21 If he eats yours, will he reimburse you or contribute to the food bill?

Give a percentage ____ Other ____

22 If your kid eats at home, will he assist with preparations? Yes ___ No ___

23 Will he do his own laundry? Yes ____ No ____

24 Can she use your TV and other equipment? Yes ____ No ____

25 If yes, will there be any time or program restrictions? Yes ____ No ____

26 Will he be allowed to entertain friends in your home? Yes ____ No ____

27 If yes, what types and what number of guests? ____________________

28 Are there to be any curfew rules? Yes ____ No ____

29 Will overnight guests be allowed? Yes ____ No ____

30 If yes, how long can a guest stay? ________________________

31 If your child ignores or violates his agreement with you, what are the consequences? _______________________________________________ 

Now, after you have gone through the worksheet, draft your lease and the two (or three) of you sign it.  Most parents will go out of their way to help and support their kids.  But roles begin to shift when the adult-to-adult relationship becomes a reality.  I strongly encourage you to set this new adult-to-adult relationship in motion when your son or daughter graduates from high school.  It doesn’t matter if college is in the picture or not.  Your flexibility and good negotiating skills (theirs too) are important factors in the parent/child tenant agreement. 

Lease Violations

If your rules are ignored or violated, what will your policy be?  By now, most parents know that their kids can be master manipulators (we grand parents know it too!).  Yours are probably no different.  The last thing you need is open warfare in your own home. 

So, from the start, set out the consequences of noncompliance, just as you did when your son or daughter was little.  Cause and effect are the issues—then be sure you stick to them!  Here’s my two bits— 

  • When a first-time infraction occurs, a verbal warning is in order. 

  • The next time, a written and/or financial penalty should be levied. 

  • The third time, get out the eviction notice.  If your kid, and his stuff,   are not gone from your home in your given number of days, put them into storage of the front lawn. 

This may sound a tad harsh.  But, by now, your kids are supposed to be grown-ups, yes?  The advance planning that you created before they moved in has set the stage.  Your house, your rules, which part isn’t understood?  It’s called performance and accountability. 

Protecting Their (and Your) Privacy

You may, just may, want to close your doors once in a while, but this kid of yours has moved home.  For that matter, so will they.  And, if your son or daughter is receiving their mail at your home, it’s difficult not to know more than either of you would like about their business.  You both deserve more privacy than was present when they were living with you when they were younger.  They are adults now and you are no longer a full time parent, you were also emancipated.  The lack of needed privacy can cause tempers to flare on both sides.  Hone up on your negotiating skills, you may need them. 

If your kids’ attitudes and/or behavior “bug” you and seem inappropriate under your roof, you should tell them.  It is critical for all to know, up front, what you can and cannot accept.  If you feel negatively about what they do or say in your home, tell them.   

Touchy areas are their friends — male and female, love interests could bring out the worst reaction in you; their finances — if they are not model citizens, you will probably “see red ”; their personal habits — loud music and smoking, make you crazy; their kids (or their pets) — a set bedtime is a must, you as a grandparent can have the fun of reading a bedtime story but you’ve earned your stripes already in enforcing the bedtime regime.  

Make it very clear what you can and cannot accept.  A lot of unnecessary negative transactions with your adult child can be avoided if they adhere to three simple rules:  

1.            Keep your area and areas you use — Neat,

2.            Sex is private — keep it that way, and

3.            Think before you speak or act — Don’t upset your Mom and Dad.   

When kids move home, the bottom line is — it’s your home and you have the final word.  If your kids don’t agree with the final word on any subject, they should pack up now.  And, return your keys.