It was an honour this morning to visit the studios of CKNW 980 for a one-on-one interview with one of BC’s most respected broadcasters, Bill Good. We had a great talk about how families should prepare when adult children move back home, and we took a few calls from families dealing with this situation — including one father who said his wife has delayed retirement so they can keep paying their adult children’s rent. Yikes! If you missed the interview, click below to listen online.
This weekend, Globe and Mail columnist Elizabeth Renzetti wrote a piece about how both parents and adult children can benefit when adult kids live at home. She said:
“It’s seen as a terrible failure that 36 per cent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 31 still live at home, the highest figure in 40 years. But when Pew Research asked them how they felt about living in the basement, 78 per cent said they were happy chez mom and dad. Interestingly, their parents were happy too: The ones who had adult kids at home were just as satisfied as those who didn’t… And look what parents get in return: companionship, affection and an antidote to loneliness, which is the true killer these days.”
It’s true that when families plan ahead, have open communication, and all get on the same page about the expectations for the adult child’s stay at home, there can be benefits for both generations. The benefits for the adult children are obvious: parents provide ongoing support, both financial and emotional.
And parents do get the companionship and affection Renzetti refers to. Even more important, they get a chance to really get to know their children as adults. The fact is that in most modern Western societies, we don’t make a lot of time for our parents once we are no longer under their roofs. Spending some time living together as adults changes the nature of the relationship between parents and their adult children, often with lasting results. Both generations get a chance to see each other as adults with real goals, dreams, and insights. Having the time to make those discoveries can be precious.
Of course, it’s not always so wonderful. If parents and kids have different expectations about anything from who does the laundry to how much the adult child should contribute financially, there’s the potential for lasting effects on the relationship that lean toward disastrous rather than delightful. Real, open, honest communication is the most important factor in just about any relationship, and that’s especially true for parents and adult children who live together.
I was quoted Friday in an article about adult children living at home for Yahoo.ca:
“The relationship between parents and their children has really changed over the last generation. Where parents are now seen much less as disciplinarian figures,” says Christina Newberry, author of The Hands-On Guide to Surviving Adult Children Living at Home. “Parents are seen more as peers so the idea of going back and living with your parents is not so bad.”
So much of the stress in our lives is caused by relationship challenges that we either have not acknowledged to ourselves, or that we have not acknowledged to others. This is true for all relationships, whether it’s with a spouse, a friend, an aging parent, or an adult child. We fall into the trap of expecting others to read our minds, or believing that everyone has the same expectations we do. This leads to huge amounts of underlying frustration, resentment, and stress that seep into all areas of our lives.
The worst part is that when we’re frustrated, angry, and resentful, we assume the worst of the people in our lives, rather than the best. That means when a challenge arises that we actually recognize as stressful, we are disinclined to give people the benefit of the doubt. We start to believe they are stressing us out on purpose, which escalates our frustration and resentment even further, so it’s a tough cycle to get out of!
The most important way to eliminate the hidden stress in any relationship is open communication. We really do need to tell people how we feel, and address minor snags in relationships before they blow up into huge problems that become so common we don’t even recognize they’re there – even though they cause us stress daily. The challenge is that we don’t necessarily know how to have those tough conversations. That’s why one of the most rewarding messages I get from families who have used my book as a guide is that it helped them get those tough conversations started – and make them productive. I’ve had stressed-out parents (and step-parents) tell me the book has saved their marriages, since they’re finally able to really talk about how they’re feeling, and start building an atmosphere of open communication.
May this new year bring you a new lease on all the difficult relationships in your life. Remember: Honesty may be difficult, but if you are clear, level-headed, fair, and reasonable, your openness will clear the path for much less stressful relationships all year long.
All the best to you and your family in 2014!
Here’s a video from The Wall Street Journal that summarizes an article the WSJ ran about parental involvement in their millennial children’s careers. I have to say, it makes me cringe. I just can’t imagine how being involved in your child’s job interviews, performance reviews, or salary negotiations can possibly cast a positive light on your child’s ability to perform a job independently.
I often say that although the current economic situation is one main reason why adult children move back home, the changed relationship between the generations is another important factor. Young adults today simply view their parents as more rightly involved in their lives than young adults did a generation or two ago. At age twenty, those born two generations ago were having forming new nuclear families with their children, not holding on to their parents. Their offices might have had “bring your child to work day” but never “bring your parents to work day.” It’s a huge cultural shift, and it will be interesting to see how it progresses. Will the millennials continue this trend or swing back the other way when they have their own children?
Here’s the video:
My advice was featured today in an article by allParenting:
Christina Newberry is the author of The Hands-On Guide to Surviving Adult Children Living at Home and founder of the site Adult Children Living at Home. She says, “I paid my own college tuition through scholarships and part-time jobs and my parents took care of most of my housing expenses for the first two years. While what I did would likely not be possible with current tuition rates, I am a firm believer that it’s a good idea for kids to have a financial stake in their college education by paying at least some of their own tuition. Having some ‘skin in the game’ helps them take their years at school more seriously and feel a sense of ownership for their education. Similarly, if students are living with their parents to save money while attending school, I recommend they pay some kind of rent — even if it’s only a token amount or if the payment comes in the form of doing extra chores around the house. This all helps with the transition from childhood to adulthood and starts to create realistic expectations about what’s required to survive in the real world.”
Here’s a strange little video from the Wall Street Journal, titled “Living With Parents Can Lead to Financial Independence.”
Gosh, I hope so! “Can” is a troubling word here that implies sometimes adult kids do not become financially independent after living at home. Remember, once your children are adults, the main goal of any stay at home should be to get them to the stage where they don’t need you anymore — that is, to get them to financial independence.
In any case, it’s peculiar in that there seems to be just one example of a woman (in her 30s, so I’m not sure she’s a “girl,” which is what the guest calls her) who happened to avoid being personally hit by the housing crisis of 2008 because she was living with her parents at the time. There’s no actual information about how living with your parents could be seen as financially empowering, which is what the title seems to promise. It would be more accurate to title this video “Living with your parents will save you money.” But this is obvious, no?
One final thing before I actually show you the video. The jokey way these two men chat about the idea of living at home troubles me a bit. Essentially they seem to be saying, Ah, well, as log as you’re all buddies, it will work out just fine. I’d suggest this is the kind of attitude that leads families to end up in situations of conflict. Planning (a timeline and expectations for the stay at home) and budgeting are both hugely important to making the situation work.
Anyway, here’s the video. What do you think? (Note: There’s a 15-second ad before the video starts.)
My advice was featured today in EverythingZoomer.com’s Boomerangst column, which dealt with a family whose adult son is contemplating a move home after several months of unemployment:
“It’s tempting to think that everything’s going to go really smoothly, but that rarely happens by itself,” says Christina Newberry, founder of the website adultchildrenlivingathome.com and the author of The Hands-on Guide to Surviving Adult Children Living at Home.
You can read the rest of the article, including my advice about two documents every family should put together before adult kids move home, here.
I recently had the chance to do a series of interviews with Rob Carrick, the personal finance columnist at national Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail. You can now watch videos of all three of those interviews online:
Here are a couple of pictures from the video shoot. Enjoy the videos!
It’s true: It’s harder for young people to find jobs these days. If you’re wondering how you can help your adult kids living at home find a job, check out the videos below to learn what you should and should NOT do.
Video 1: The Do’s
Video 2: The Don’ts