Devora asks: “I have a 30 year old son who is still living at home with us. He graduated from university many years ago and is currently working for a law firm. He’s our youngest son and I enjoy having him around the house, but I also believe he needs to learn to be more independent, and that moving out is the best way to do so. He, on the other hand, has indicated that he’s not planning on moving anywhere before he gets married. He claims that living at home with us enables him to put some money aside, so he can afford a place of his own when he starts a family. How can I convince him that moving out is the best option for him?”
It is common today that young adults are more likely to leave the nest at 28 than at 18. Some stay because they’re saving on rent money. Some stay because they don’t want to deal with the washing, cooking, shopping and cleaning. Really, who does? Others may be a bit scared of the big move and want to delay it as long as possible.
So, how can parents help their children take that first step and get a move on?
Slow and steady wins the race
Sometimes taking it step by step is the best approach. Give them more responsibilities around the house, such as cooking and cleaning. This may empower them and show them that they can take care of themselves. On the other hand, they might get a better appreciation of everything you were doing for them until now and want to never leave.
Throw them in the cold water
There’s also the opposite approach - that just like with a needed visit to the dentist, it’s better to just do and get it over and done with. Let them know it’s time for them to leave. Have them actively go look for apartments and offer assistance with whatever you think will help them find a new place quickly. Sometimes a push was all they were waiting for. You know your children the best, so decide whether they will appreciate the push or get insulted by it. You still want them to speak to you by the end of move.
Independence can be fun
Use your persuasion skills and your creativity to come up with ideas that will convince your son this will be the best “move” he will ever make in his life.
Point out you’ll hassle him much less about his cleaning habits, or lack thereof. Maybe get a cousin his age who lives on his own, to give a tour of the “good life.” And you can always just state the obvious; that it’s much harder to find a girl who’ll go home with him- when it’s is mama’s home he’s living in.
It’s very hard for a parent to tell their child he’s no longer welcome to live at his childhood home. We love our children so much and want them to always feel like they have a place that they can come back to - a safe haven. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to remain at home well into adulthood, or that that’s what’s best for them.
Devora, it seems, has got to a point in which she is torn between her love for her son and what she considers to be in his best interest.
In times like these, it’s important to remind ourselves that we remain parents forever. Part of parenting is to draw limits. And just like you would teach your young child about boundaries, you can continue to enforce such lessons, when your son is still under your roof and under your rules.
Tell your son you love him and care for his well-being. He’ll always be welcome in your home -- but it’s time for him to move on and build a life of his own, and likewise for you to move on to the next stage of your life.
If it’s done well, you’ll all grow stronger from it and start a new page in each of your lives.
Shimrit Nothman has a Masters degree in Conflict Resolution and believes that like charity, conflict resolution begins at home. If you have any questions for Shimrit, please use the comments section below or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column is brought to you as general information only and should not be a replacement for professional advice.