In May 26,2018 the Chicago Tribune published an editorial by John Kass describing the court ordered eviction of Michael Rotondo from his home by his parents. This was later reprinted in the St. Paul Pioneer Press under the title “Don’t Rush to Condemn The Basement-Dwelling Slacker.” Below is an expanded version of my comment to the Pioneer Press on this editorial published on June 10, 2018. Kass described the piling on by both conservatives and liberals in condemning the thirty-year-old’s resistance to leaving the comforts of home as the parents had been requesting for months. Parenting your young adult is a struggle. Having a basement dwelling millennial in your home is not uncommon nor is the struggle of parents to launch such a young adult.
The Biggest Challenge for Parents
The biggest challenge for parents with basement dwelling young adults without a job or desire to obtain a job is how to balance love and backbone. The extreme positions on each side of this balancing act are not helpful. Parents feel helpless in these situations and believe there is nothing they can do and can’t imagine kicking their child out, but then nothing changes, no progress is made and resentment builds. Or they may subscribe to the old school philosophy of “don’t let the door hit you on the backside as you leave.” This latter approach may seem like a simple or obvious solution to some, but the price is alienation and both parties suffer. Young people who leave under such circumstances carry with them anger, hurt, rejection that doesn’t bode well for their future success. The parents live with doubt, guilt, and worry about their young adult living in a box on the street. It’s a lose-lose for the relationship.
Ask Three Questions
Although there is no clear right or wrong answer to this dilemma, there are some guidelines to help parents. In my private practice and workshops, I conduct for parents of young adults, I propose asking three questions when coming to a decision regarding the basement dweller:
- Is my action motivated by love not fear, anger, or resentment?
- Is my action consistent with my values and principles?
- Is my action likely to support the responsible independence of my young adult?
In the case of Michael Rotondo, there is a way to say- “We love you, we believe it is important for you to be self-sufficient, and we will support your independence but you have to leave.” Hopefully, in most families, eviction isn’t required but if it is, parents can still show both love and backbone. In one client family with whom I worked, the parents who had required the young adult son to move out would take a bag of groceries over to his apartment on a weekly basis. A way of saying even though you are out of the home we still love you and care about you and your well-being.