Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Here are some of the more Frequent Asked Questions we receive.
If you do not see your question here, please send it to Dr. Jack at firstname.lastname@example.org and he will respond within three days!
How do I get my kid out of the house?
The challenge is to foster the development of independence with your young adult so that at some point it becomes both easy and natural to move out. So if you make his meals, do his laundry, give him money, clean his room, etc…why would he move out. Can I move in with you? So the starting point is to redefine the relationship with your young adult as one that is adult to adult. As such they should see themselves as a roommate or boarder who needs to contribute as all other adults do in the house- pay rent, clean, cook some meals, do laundry, etc…
I am having trouble letting go emotionally. What can I do?
It’s complicated and warrants a broader and more in-depth response. However, here are some tips to help you move forward.
- Discuss the need and desire you have for your young adult to move on and propose a date. It can be negotiated if necessary.
- Ask what they need to do and what they want you to do to enable them to meet that deadline.
- Develop a plan with each party’s responsibilities and some target milestones. Have a weekly check-in on how each party is making progress toward the exit day. Don’t bug your young adult about this between check-in meetings, which can foster resistance.
- Create a living arrangement that mimics what they will experience living outside the home, perhaps with friends. For example, they would need to pay rent, do laundry, clean, cook meals, and do other chores. You could offer to put rent money into a reserve that can be used for rent deposit and other up-front expenses required in the move.
- Don’t make it too comfortable for your young adult to live at home by doing things for them that they should do for themselves. For example, switch into a role of viewing your young adult as a roommate or a border. This prepares them for life on the outside, so to speak.
I worry that my young adult won’t be able to make it on their own. What can I do?
Start with yourself and work on reducing your worrying by self-care: exercise, stress reduction, getting involved outside of the home, and increasing friends and support. If you are anxious, it can compound the feeling of any anxiety the young adult might have and now they have to worry about you worrying about them. Avoid being behind them pushing at times and then holding back when anxious, or out in front trying to pull them in some direction. Be a friend and consultant and walk alongside them, envisioning with them a successful future.
What is realistic to expect of a young adult living at home?
The time of living at home before moving out on their own should be a time of connecting with family and enjoying that emotional bond, but at the same time practicing independent living. This means being a fully responsible adult in the household however that is defined by the family. Typically, this would involve paying rent, doing laundry, ironing, cleaning, cooking some meals, and doing dishes and other chores. The best approach is to provide written expectations for living at home. Indicate that you don’t want to be pulled into being a nagging parent because they won’t have that when they are on there own— they will have to be their own nagging parent. If they are not following through on set expectations, ask them to come up with consequences: fines, extra work around the house, community service, and so forth. Reassure them that the goal is prepping for independence and the more they can operate in an independent and responsible way at home the easier it will be when they move out.
My young adult is living outside the home but constantly asking for money. What do I do to get them off the family payroll?
I think it is a good idea for parents to identify, prior to a young adult moving out, what they would be willing to do financially should the need arise. If they are off to college be clear about what you will do if anything to help them with college. I have worked with young people who received no help with college and although they speak with a pride of doing it on their own, they harbor a certain resentment that their folks didn’t help out in any way. Some cost sharing on college or technical school can make sense, but it needs to be contingent on them contributing. There are no specific guidelines but a couple good rules of thumb are not do for them what they can do for themselves and as possible require that they contribute some of their own money to cover an expense before you do.
I feel guilty when I say “no” to my young adult but resentful when I “give in.”
This is the old dammed if I do and dammed if I don’t dilemma that I discuss with many parents I see in therapy. When you say no to a request for money and your young adult is angry and rejects you, you can feel bad. On the other hand, if you give your young adult money and they spend it on something that is not healthy or responsible, you can feel resentment.
It’s best in these situations to buy some time by saying, “I’ll get back to you.” Talk with your spouse, partner, or close friend to help you decide on the best decision. Then ask yourself what action shows love and support for your young adult’s independence. Make the decision on what’s the right, loving action and best for them, whether they believe it is best for them or may cause them unhappiness.
I talk to or text my young adult daughter several times a day. Is she too dependent?
There is no dependency yardstick or gauge. One frame of reference can be the norm. Research on communication patterns between parents and their young adults indicates a significant shift in frequency. In 1986 about half of parents spoke to their young adult children once a week. Today 67 percent of mothers and 51 percent of fathers talk or text their young adult every day. Parents and their young adult children are closer today then they were thirty or forty years ago. That’s both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes my wife and I think we get too much information and can end up worrying about our young adults. My parents didn’t worry about me because they rarely heard from me when I was a young adult. The question is whether the content and the frequency of communication are interfering with them making decisions and taking the actions they need to be fully mature adults. If you enjoy your daughter’s company in person or via phone and text and she is moving toward mature independence and is comfortable with the level of contact and sharing, count this as a plus.
How do I stay in touch or connect to my young adult after they have left home?
Most parents of millennials have figured out that parents need to stay connected with their young adult through the medium that is most used by them. Ask how they would like to keep in touch or observe how they are contacting you. One parent indicated that she had learned more about her son and had more in-depth communication with him via email when he went off to college than she had had all of his senior year when he was living at home. Today, many young adults prefer text but also use social media communication vehicles like Instagram and Facebook. Their preferred communication style may not be your preferred style but better to join them than fight it.
How do I get my young adult to talk to me?
The first step is to understand why they do not want to talk. Is there a history of reactivity or judging on your part when they shared something personal? Do they just want to have space and be able to make decisions on their own without being told what to do? It’s important to make the shift as parents from a directive style of parenting to a coaching or consultative approach. The former tells and the later asks and seeks understanding. The former is about sending a message of what you think and the latter is about seeking to understand what your young adult thinks.
Listening and inquiry skills become much more important at this stage of development. Ask your young adult to go out for breakfast or dinner, assuring them that the goal is for you to practice listening and not preaching, and then you need to do just that. The saying that we have been created with two ears and one mouth is for a reason. Apply this concept if you want to build a better relationship with your young adult. If you need a refresher or help with nonjudgmental listening and inquiry skills, consider the short book Can You Speak Millennial “ese”? available at parentslettinggo.com.
My son and daughter-in-law have been very restrictive in allowing me to visit and spend time with their new baby, my first grandchild. What do I do?
I have talked to a number of parents of millennials who are married and have run into resistance or restrictions on time they can spend with their grandchildren. Parents like these don’t want to come between their son and his wife and yet are suffering because they want to know their grandchild.
- Recognize that your son and daughter-in-law are the parents and ultimately decide what they want or don’t want for their child.
- As much as you may not want to hear this, it may help to lower your expectations relative to what you had imagined your relationship to be to your son, daughter-in-law, and grandchild. Expectations are the root cause of all unhappiness.
- Stay on the high road; it’s less crowded. Don’t become bitter and contentious about time with the grandchild; if you do, you will likely meet with resistance and possible further reduction in grandchild time. Go along with their expectations but continue to offer to help with the grandchild; babysit so the couple can get away or ask what you can do or buy for the grandchild.
Allow the parents the chance to bond and have the special relationship they want to have with their child. With this recognition and support from you, they will gradually develop more comfort and interest in inviting you to be part of the family and grandchild’s life.
My daughter wants me to babysit and provide childcare. How do I limit this?
My daughter believes that I should want to spend as much time with their young children as possible including babysitting and providing childcare. She says all her friend’s parents can’t get enough grandchild time. But I am retired and want to enjoy this time in my life and be a grandparent—spoil them with fun events, gifts, and treats—and not be the childcare provider. However I feel guilty saying no when I just don’t have the energy or time to cover for her.
It seems like grandparents fall someplace on a continuum between not wanting much time at all with grandchildren for various reasons and not getting enough—and would move in with their grandchildren if they could!
What studies show: In an AARP survey, one in six grandparents provide childcare for their grandchildren. In other studies (Huffington Post) the figure has been higher; up to 30 percent provide childcare. Half of them enjoy the childcare role, but the ability to be the extended family member who takes grandchildren to events, buys them things, plays with them, and gives them treats still rates as the number one desired role.
Grandparents have to be true to themselves to do and be what they want with their grandchildren but also flex at times and make some sacrifices. Grandparents shouldn’t feel guilty for not wanting to do childcare; some grandparents offer to help fund this resource rather than provide it themselves. Avoid extending yourself repeatedly out of your comfort zone where you are resenting the requested time with the grandchildren. Better to invest from the heart in limited ways then to overinvest out of guilt and reap resentment.
Still have Questions?
No worries, check out our social media profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook for more FAQ type discussions. Or you can always contact us or email directly at email@example.com to set up a consultation. Dr. Jack can also be reached by phone at 651-486-0122 ext. 2.