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When Should Children Leave Home?

I just read a funny article written by Christopher Middleton about older children still living at home, and how this is becoming the norm. I'm not going to name any names, and actually we have been quite lucky; only one out of six of our children seems to think that it should be ok to linger around the house as often as possible.

Middleton states that a report revealed that some three million children between the ages of 20 and 34 are still living at home with their parents. And even when their mothers and fathers think that at last, they have an empty nest, they find their fledgling young returning, for a stay that can last until they are 27, on average, and can even extend into their forties.

"The first inklings my wife and I had that we might have a ‘failed fledgling’ on our hands was towards the start of our daughter’s final year at university, when we found her poring over the world atlas. Our fears were not diminished by finding handwritten notes, bearing phrases such as ‘Bolivian Salt Flats’ and ‘Hostels – Buenos Aires’,” Middleton writes.

You think perhaps if you make them do chores around the house, they may think you are being mean to them and want to leave home. Light duties, like vacuuming the stairs, cleaning the bath, filling and emptying the dishwasher are not too much to ask, but it always seems you are nagging to get it done. It never fails.

He also writes, "It makes no difference, either, to stand there and tell your daughter that, when you were her age, you not only lived in a squalid, shared flat, but spent at least half your wages on rent. What does make a difference, though, is when you start asking her for rent. Yes, rent. At first hearing, it doesn’t sound good. Nor at second hearing, either. None the less, the request for $200 a month not only got her job searching, it also oiled the wheels to such an extent that she moved out. She now shares a house with three of her best friends, and although her bedroom is the size of a cubicle, it is, at least her own cubicle."

Aha! So there is your answer – ask them for money! Actually, we tried that and even though we were thought of as extremely mean parents, the rent was paid, grudgingly every month after numerous reminders.

Roger Lewis also wrote an article about this and it sounds like he really is in deep, he states "For 25 years, I’ve been soppy beyond belief. What I do is run a free hotel. Quite a nice hotel at that. I am up early doing the chambermaid stuff, scrubbing the toilet, gathering the laundry and fussing with fabric conditioner. After the children have risen in the early afternoon, I sluice the bathroom again — you’d think a horse had tried to use the washroom. I fill the fridge, struggling back from the Co-op with bulging carrier bags. I provided hot meals, I uncork the wine, then opened a second bottle, because that’s how I cope. The only thing I draw a line at is entering their bedrooms. The last time I did, in 2007, the mess would have shamed political prisoners making a dirty protest. There was mould and fungus growing on plates of left-over snacks and bottles of festering liquid. Today, God only knows what horrors I might find." Oh, my lord, too funny!

Sometimes parents feel that their children do not have the ability to survive all by themselves out there in the big bad world - but, remember we managed, and they will too! I wish you good luck if you have an adult child still living at home. The thing is to be strong and remember you are the parent, you get to decide, and you can do it!

Author: Kathryn Hartwell


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