Dear Dr. Bill,
Our 20-year-old daughter has moved back home after some academic problems in college. We had offered to pay for her education as long as she made good grades. But now she seems to have given up on college and has a good full-time job.
The problem is that she doesn’t handle her finances well and has repeatedly become overdrawn at the bank. I believe she should pay us rent so that she can learn to live with the consequences of her career and financial decisions. However, my husband thinks I’m being petty. What do you think?
You’re not alone. Millions of American parents have adult children living at home and the phenomenon is growing.
You and your husband need to agree on some ground rules regarding your daughter. You are obviously frustrated with this situation while your husband is doesn’t seem concerned about your daughter’s lack of responsibility.
It’s critical that you get on the same page, both for your daughter’s sake and the sake of your relationship.
I’d suggest that you hold a family meeting to discuss the situation. Tell your daughter that she is welcome to continue to live in your home, but now that she’s an adult, she will need to start assuming more adult responsibilities.
Let her know this will include being responsible for her own expenses, her own laundry and cleaning, and making a weekly contribution to the family grocery bill. It’s completely reasonable to expect her to pay some amount of rent as well.
Also, if you continue to bail your daughter out of her financial messes, she’ll come to expect it–and things will only get worse.
Remember, the key to good parenting is balancing love and limits and this applies to our young adult children as well.
Thanks for writing, Lisa. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.
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