Would you please move out already?
In the past decade, a new social trend has emerged and enlarged: adult children are not moving out of home. Instead, they’re staying put, living with their parents, and trying to establish themselves financially while mooching off Mum and Dad.
They’re called “KIPPERS”: Kids In Parents’ Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings.
Why aren’t kids leaving home?
The reasons for this trend are varied and valid – at least in the eyes of the kids.
Rents and mortgages are unaffordable for many people, particularly while they remain students. Kids are attending university at high levels and staying there longer than ever before, for postgraduate (or just extra) degrees. Many adult children are simply working but not leaving home because it costs so much. These factors combine with an increasing age for marriage and child-rearing, which means that adult children just don’t want to move out.
But this is a problem for an increasing number of parents.
The problem with adult kids staying at home longer
Many parents also started their families a little later than their parents and, find themselves, in their late fifties or early sixties, eager to downsize. They want to finally buy that place close to the coast, or even retire for a tree-change, but they can’t because their children won’t move out!
Alternatively, parents are calculating that they’ve had three kids over nine years. Their youngest is 26 and living at home. They’ve had someone in the house for 35 years and they just want to have their own space! They don’t want to keep picking up after others, plan meals for extras and have to tiptoe around a moody adult child – or deal with their daily ‘stuff’.
Dropping the hint
Parents who are eager for space have a unique challenge, though. Some children complain that they are “unloved” if we ask them to leave.
A family I knew asked their daughter and her partner to move out of home. They had been “helping out” while their adult kids built a home. But after several months of delays and no obvious end in sight, they made the tough decision to drop the hint. They wanted to downsize. The father needed to have an operation that meant there was a need to move into a home without stairs. They had delayed their decision for some time to help the kids. But it was now time to act.
The request did not go well. Offence was taken. The daughter felt unloved. The relationship was damaged. Within three days, the daughter and her partner had moved out, in an emotional storm.
Getting it right
In some relationships, nothing a parent does can reduce the short-term fallout and feelings of rejection their children may feel. However, most of the time, the following simple steps will be helpful in getting it right:
1. Consider their perspective
Before you put the hard word on your kids to move out, consider their circumstances. Are they going to be doing it easy or tough if they have to leave? What support do they have around them? How will they manage? The quality and availability of their resources may be important in helping you decide whether you want to put the hard word on them – or when you should.
2. Be proactive
Work out what you want most. Take steps to live according to your values, rather than being dictated to by your kids. If there is misalignment between what you value and what your children want, look at what matters more to you, and respond to that.
3. Communicate early
If you want the kids to leave, talk about it early. The more notice they have, the better off they’ll be, and the more time they will have to prepare for the changes that are coming. Discuss prospective dates so that they can start to make plans for themselves. This is much better than saying, “You’ll have to get out by this weekend. We have had enough and need our own space.”
4. Communicate regularly
As the time draws closer, let your children know what plans you’re making, and ask them how they are going with their plans. Find out about their options. Ask if they want your involvement.
5. Communicate empathically
For some of our children, this revelation will hit hard. Be gentle in sharing your concerns. Tell your kids you are not “kicking them out”, but that you are recognising that everyone will benefit from the extra space - emotionally and physically. And if it isn’t an issue of ‘space’, but instead it’s about lifestyle, explain your circumstances and be understanding of theirs.
6. Offer support
Depending on the circumstances your children are in, you might be in a position to offer help and support. That might come in the form of helping with the move, a rent or grocery subsidy for a fixed time (which may be preferable to having them live with you!), assistance with purchasing household items, and so on. Again, find out if they want your help. Sometimes they may prefer to do things on their own.
It’s not easy
Encouraging the kids to leave the nest can be fraught with challenges. Family relationships are difficult sometimes, but honest, early, considerate communication is usually the best strategy for reducing stress and challenge around getting our own (and their own) space … plus a little support where needed.
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This article was written by Dr Justin Coulson for Kidspot.com.au and has been adapted for Kidspot.co.nz