Start talking, stop enabling, begin healing-Part 1

28 Dec Start talking, stop enabling, begin healing-Part 1


What happens when your child-who you thought had finally moved on to adulthood and in to their own place-has to move back home because of financial difficulties?

Stay with me even if your children are not yet out of high school. My hope is that learning what transpired with one family-and knowing this is a pretty common occurrence-will help you plot a better path with your children.

There are considerations to ponder when your cub returns to home territory, since they are now adults. There will be reviews of rules and responsibilities, and expectations and boundaries, and dealing with the physical and emotional baggage they bring with them, as they struggle with the fact that they have had to move back home.

Although some of these young men and women want to get back out into the world as soon as possible, others take advantage of the situation. Having all the comforts of a fully furnished home at their fingertips-a well stocked refrigerator,  an up-to-date selection of electronics, and a soft bed which keeps them warm and comfy every day, until they decide to greet the morning…around noontime-minus those nasty things like rent and bills, makes for a pretty sweet situation.

How do you handle those who don’t seem to be making plans to move on and out, because it is just easier to live off with mom and dad than to make their own financial way?

Well, I know a single mom-we’ll call her B.-who experienced this very situation, and I wanted you to hear her success story so that you know it is possible to find a way out of that difficult place you may be.

She had shared with me her frustration at her adult child, “I told her she could move home when she asked to, and I told her she wouldn’t have to pay anything, but she would need to be setting aside money from her part-time job so she could move back out. Not only is she not saving, but she keeps asking me for money, she sleeps most of the day and then goes out with her friends at night doing things I can’t afford to do, and she gives me a tough time about helping around the house. I am so frustrated I just don’t know what to do.”

I asked permission to give her some advice (always a good idea and good manners to ask permission, especially when it’s your children), since we had experienced a similar situation. She was all for it.

I explained that I was a facilitator for Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, and I had learned about better ways to handle family members’ requests for money and help.

As the parent, you need to sit down with your offspring, and have that potentially difficult conversation about money, responsibility and enabling.

You may not recognize what you are doing is enabling your dear adult child but you are, and that is an integral part of the problem.

The idea of having this conversation generally scares parents to death, as it did this mom, but you must move beyond your fear to move onto the wholesome, respectful, friendly relationship that is possible.

View your situation from a different perspective: Although your intent is to help your child, you are actually enabling them. Your intention is to say, this is how I show you I love you, by caring for you. However, what you are really saying, by giving them money, by allowing them to sleep and play and not help around the house, is that they are just not capable.

Just. Not. Capable.

They don’t possess enough talent to get a decent job. Therefore you must support them.

They are useless around the house. Therefore you must clean the house.

You don’t value or trust their help, so you don’t require it of them. Therefore you must run the errands and take care of the important stuff.

Your message, loud and clear, dear readers, is that your child is not capable.

Are you startled by this point of view? Do you disagree strongly? Most parents do. But, I gently invite you to see that the reality is that by allowing your offspring to just take from the household without contributing when they are capable, well, the message you are sending is loud and clear.

After sharing this perspective with B., I explained the conversation that needed to be held. (Note that I am only addressing the financial issue here. The “you need to help around the house” is a completely different, but equally important conversation.)…

Come back tomorrow for the second half to learn what the mom said, and how you, too, can move away from the destructive habit of enabling.

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