Raising Independent Children-Not Moochers

Close to 14 million adult children are still living at home. There are simple steps both parents and their kids need to take to make their lives more productive, fulfilling and successful. Over-indulgence is one

Close to 14 million adult children are still living at home. There are simple steps both parents and their kids need to take to make their lives more productive, fulfilling and successful. Over-indulgence is one of the most insidious forms of child abuse.

Your primary job as a parent is to prepare your child for how the world really works. In the real world, you don’t always get what you want. You will be better able to deal with that as an adult if you’ve experienced it as a child.

Are your kids a sponge or are you a sucker? There is a difference between helping your children get up on their feet and setting them up to expect less of themselves. Set boundaries without feeling guilt. Parents need to put down boundaries and stick to them. Children often assume the victim role and say, “I can’t do it. I have to live here.” Parents buy into this thinking, and then feel guilty because they want to help their kids. When they feed that guilt, they ignore the fact that they are crippling their children’s advancement in life.

Getting Adult Children To Be Financially Responsible

Let your adult children plan their own lives. Parents should not try to make a life plan for their adult children; this is something they need to devise on their own so they will follow it. Parents can guide and support their kids, but treating them like babies may cause them to regress. They need to be moving ahead and maturing, not regressing into childhood roles. Adult kids should be living as independent young people and making their own way.

They need to decide for themselves what they want out of life, and devise a plan to obtain it. Spoiling your children doesn’t teach them how the world works. All you are teaching them is that if they ask enough, you’ll give them what they want.

Your child is doing what he’s doing because he/she can. Instead of asking why your kid isn’t more productive, have a job or goals, ask yourself if you have created an environment in which your child doesn’t have to. Can they maintain the standard of living you raised them in without any effort?

Helping or Enabling?

Think about the true meaning of help. There is an old saying: “Those for whom you do the most, wind up resenting you the worst.” Are you really helping your kids if you’re not showing them how the real world works? Parents need to redefine what it means to help someone. Look at your motivation for helping your children. If you are doing it to feel better about yourself, then you probably don’t have your child’s best interest in mind.

You don’t help people by taking away their self-sufficiency, pride of accomplishment and achievement. Children need to take an initiative and find ways to achieve their goals on their own. If something is important enough for your children, they will find a way to make it happen.

How To Stop Enabling

Learn how to say no. Your children need to learn that if they choose a behavior, they choose the consequences. Don’t allow them to keep choosing behaviors that have negative consequences that you pick up the tab for! Remember, you are not doing your child a favor by making it easy for him or her to continue to live at home. Children get into a “comfort zone” where days turn into months and then years and before you know it, you’re 28 or 30 and living at home.

Prepare your children for the real world. When we talk about loving our children, loving them means preparing them. In the real world, your children will have to pull their own weight and make their own way. If you allow them not to require more from themselves, then they won’t, and they won’t progress. It is important for your children to learn self-sufficiency, develop high self-esteem and be motivated from early on in life. It is important for your children to learn self-sufficiency, develop high self-esteem and be motivated from early on in life. They should know how to pay their bills and pay them on time (do they know How to write a check?), how to cook basic meals for themselves, how to change a tire, pay taxes, repair appliances, and change the oil in the car, and so on. If you are constantly “helping” them and taking care of their needs, you are not preparing them for the real world, and in fact, you are actually crippling them.

Learning How To Let Go

Don’t feel guilty for wanting your children to be out on their own. It does not mean you don’t love them. It means that you don’t want to rob them of the chance to be self-sufficient, productive adults who are able to have a sense of purpose and pride.

Remember, you don’t solve money problems with money. You solve money problems with lifestyle, values and priorities. Come up with a plan that contains clear steps and a timeline that both of you can agree on.

If you’re frustrated because all of your help thus far hasn’t been appreciated, remember that no good deed goes unpunished. Those you do the most for will resent you the most – because it becomes a bottomless pit. The most valuable gift that you can give your children in this situation is to start requiring more of them and allow them to be grownups.

Parents who have adult children still living at home should give their kids 30 days to move out of the house and then change the locks. You are not being mean by requiring them to grow up. Pushing your adult children out of the house helps them begin healthy, successful lives.

For Adult Children:

Take responsibility for yourself. Oftentimes it is easier to sit back and let others provide for you, while you get accustomed to a comfort zone. By taking the path of least resistance, you reward yourself with comfort and relief from anxiety that comes from reaching for something else. You may feel safe when you don’t attempt to change, but you are sabotaging yourself. You are selling out your happiness and putting up with something you don’t want. Require more of yourself.

Have a plan to get on your own. Find a job, something that gives you the pride and independence to be able to say, “I am taking care of myself.” Start living where you can get up in the morning and look in the mirror and say, “I’m a grown person; I’m living on my own and I’m proud of that.” Start at an entry-level position if you have to, and then build from there. Saving yourself for a management position is not the place to start. You need to get whatever job you can, and then build for another job. Set some goals and make a time-line to get there.

Further Reading:

How to Stop Enabling: When Our Grown Children Disappoint Us
Support Groups for Parents with Grown Adult Children Living at Home with Parents

205723471-5-2Setting Boundaries With Your Adult Children As long as we continue to keep enabling our adult children, they will continue to deny they have any problems, since most of their problems are being “solved” by those around him. Only when our adult children are forced to face the consequences of their own actions—their own choices—will it finally begin to sink in how deep their patterns of dependence and avoidance have become. And only then will we as parents be able to take the next step to real healing, forever ending our enabling habits and behaviors.