Monday, April 2, 2018

Tha Kid Came Home

He smiles through the screen door, with the “Mom, I’m home!” that always captured your heart.  He left home several years ago; but he’s come back because he can’t find a job.

Remember your own leave-taking?  You raced out the door to freedom.  In lean times, you ate ketchup sandwiches and Ramen; but you never returned home.

Well, THAT tradition’s changed.  USA TODAY recently reported that 62% of young adults get financial help from their parents who are increasingly becoming their landlords.

What do you do when The Kid comes home, unemployed, broke and discouraged?  How do you make this a successful but not cushy interlude for your darling battered by this economy?  Some young clients’ parents recommend:

1.  Set a time limit for the home stay, say, three months.  That can be extended, but it signals you’re a temporary rest stop, not an ultimate destination.

2.  Apply THIS Golden Rule:  He who has the gold makes the rules.  You’re not likely to set curfew for a 25-year-old, but you SHOULD have rules about helping with chores:  lawns, laundry, grocery shopping, etc.  It has to be the basis for staying.  “If you don’t do this, you can’t live here.”

3.  Apply this other fine rule: the payment of rent, even if it’s $20 a week.  It doesn’t cover the cost of The Kid being there, but it’s a reminder that life demands we pay our way.

4.  Require diligent job seeking.  Basement Boy is not allowed to huddle in his lair down there and tell you he’s job hunting on the internet.  BIG BOGUS PARENTAL FAKE-OUT.  Internet job search takes an hour a day.  He needs to get out the door.  His job is to find a job.

5.  Work SOMEWHERE: The mall, being a bouncer, room service delivery, fast food, pizza dude. . .the jobs that are always available.  One can get out of the habit of working.  It’s important to do SOMETHING.

6.  Communicate what other support you can provide and for how long:  Car or health insurance, gas, cell phones, money?  Do only what you can afford.

This should be a three- to six-month proposition.  As much as you all love each other, this arrangement tends to be hard on everybody: for the grown child moving home and not as a blazing success; for the parents, possibly quaking about their own job and retirement, taking on added expenses and rearranging their lives and space for this adored scion.

Your tendency will be to welcome, and sympathize, but to be too generous and vague about “the deal.”   You’ll regret that in a week.  Decide what feels right to you and what your family can afford, and communicate “the deal” and your expectations up front. 

Throw open the screen door, wrap The Kid in your arms, but get down to work at the kitchen table right away. Family respite visits, like business, succeed when clarity and expectations get communicated early.

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