Encouraging Kids to Move On

For the first time in more than 130 years, the number one living arrangement for Americans ages 18-34 is to remain single and live in their parents’ home.


Julie Baumgardner

KidsMoveOn.Baumgardner

Julie Baumgardner, MS, CFLE President and CEO, First Things First

Often, parents feel that their child’s teenage years are God’s way of preparing them for their teen’s impending launch into the “real world” and the next phase of young adulthood. However, many of those parents are in for a surprise. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center study, for the first time in more than 130 years, the number one living arrangement for Americans ages 18-34 is to remain single and live in their parents’ home. Furthermore, almost nine in 10 young people who were living in their parents’ home a year ago are still there.

There are many causes behind this new trend. Sometimes, a temporary move back home is just a healthy way for independent young adults to save money while they prepare for the next stage of their life. However, there are also circumstances where the move back home can invite an unhealthy dependency to form. When that happens, many parents are left wondering how they can encourage their kids to find their independence.

If you find yourself in this position, here are some tips for propelling your adult child forward:

Put non-negotiables in place.

Establish the conditions under which they can remain in your home. Set a monthly amount for rent and food. Let them know what you expect them to do around the house. Provide guidelines for coming and going and for having guests over.

Set clear expectations.

Determine together exactly how this time in your home will help your young adult. If they are looking for a job or saving money to be out on their own, discuss measurable goals and set specific deadlines. Review progress regularly, be encouraging, and provide reminders that the goal is for them to be able to move out, not get comfortable.

Set a time limit.

Whether your young adult is already living with you or you are considering letting them do so, establish a move-out date and stick to it.

Assist with resources.

The key word here is “assist.” Introduce them to resources that help with budgeting, job searching, time management, networking, or creating a resume. Avoid doing these things for them, though. It is vital they learn how to do these things independently, only asking for assistance when necessary.

Stick to your guns.

If you reach the agreed-upon deadline and you don’t see forward movement, the most loving thing you can do is tell them it’s time to find somewhere else to live. This sounds harsh, but allowing them to be dependent on you when they are capable of living productively on their own is in no one’s best interest.

Parenting is an incredible gift. But it’s also a responsibility to help other human beings develop, grow, thrive, and become productive citizens who don’t need us on a daily basis to survive. Sometimes it is hard to sit back and watch kids struggle, but the struggle helps build confidence and teaches so many life lessons. We have to be strong and overtly encourage our children to move on.

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