How to Get Your Adult Child and Grandkid to Move Out
by Reader Contributors
It can be hard enough to get an adult child financially stable enough to move out. But when they themselves have a child to support? You don’t want them living with you forever nor do you want them struggling alone, Our readers share their solutions for this delicate situation.
About six months back, my husband and I took in my adult daughter and school-age grandson when my daughter and her husband separated. It was supposed to be a temporary arrangement. Now the two are headed for divorce. My son-in-law is of course paying child support, but he simply does not make enough money for my daughter to continue to be a stay-at-home mom. And quite frankly, I see no reason why she cannot get a job.
My grandson is in public school, so it is not like she has been home-schooling him. She spends most of the day in front of the TV. I am more than willing to help get my grandson to and from school and even watch him any time my daughter and son-in law would have to work, but she refuses to look for a job.
I do not see how they will ever be able to move out without her working, and it has been somewhat stressful with her and my grandson living with us in our small home. If it was just my daughter, we’d just tell her she has to get her own place, but it has been hard for me to put my foot down because of my grandson. Has anyone else had a similar problem with adult children with grandkids?
Are You Charging Room and Board?
If you are not charging her room and board, now would be a good time to start. You can say the added expense for two more people is cutting into your budget and soon you won’t be able to keep up. Give her a set time limit to find a job and start helping out. Maybe once she is working, it will inspire her to get her own place.
Give Your Adult Child a Time Limit
When I was about 20 years old, I moved back home with my special needs child to escape a bad marriage. During the 10 months I was there, I got a job, finished school, and got a car. I was supposed to be saving for a place to live, but it was so comfortable there! When my dad thought I was ready, he gave me a month to find a place to live. I wasn’t happy about it, but I found a cute little rental and a babysitter during that time. It can be done. When my own adult children were languishing at home (neither attending school nor working enough hours to pay for anything except incidentals), I announced that I could no longer afford the rental where we lived and I was moving to a cheaper place. I gave them two months to figure it out. It was rough to watch them flounder, but it worked. (This would not work if you own your own home.)
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Depression May Be the Culprit
The first issue to address is that the daughter is likely unsure of herself as a newly divorced person. Excessive TV watching is a sign of depression. Does she have job skills? College education? Perhaps a close friend whom she respects could encourage her to take a course or provide assistance in job hunting. Encourage her to create a professional resume. Evaluating her skills and putting them in writing should go a long way in helping her see that she has a lot to offer to prospective employers. A good review of her wardrobe for an interview outfit and a visit to a department store cosmetics counter will boost her confidence. An expert cosmologist will put together a nice makeup plan and do a makeover including take-home samples at no cost. The samples are generally sufficient for four or five days’ worth of cosmetics for interview dates.
Sit down for a family meeting and stay calm. Do not give ultimatums. Instead, just discuss a future that is full of promise and find ways to gently encourage her down this path. I used these techniques with a relative who was in a very similar situation. After several tearful talks, I asked her what she would want if she did not have to worry about money (she too was leaving her partner). Her surprising answer was, “I want to become independent.” She started with that dream and she has succeeded. It took time, patience, cool heads, and kind encouragement. And she did it!
Make Sure Your Child Carries Their Own Weight
My mother taught me a lot about “coming back home” when I was in my late teens. If we moved back home and were full time in university or college, she would allow us to stay for free. If we were at home but working (or not), we were expected to pay market rate room and board, and we were expected to contribute as adults to the household.
When I moved home and was not working, I had chores (it was two to three hours of housecleaning, laundry, yard work, and dinner preparation). Even when working, I had chores (perhaps an hour less). If I had been on my own, those chores would have been mine anyway, but my wonderful Mom wasn’t willing to carry my load once I was an adult. Bathrooms (toilet cleaning!) and floors (mopping and vacuuming) as well as lawn work, weeding, chopping vegetables for dinner can be done by a school-aged child. An adult daughter who is not working should be shouldering the majority of the household chores, particularly if you aren’t charging her market rate for room and board.
I would offer her a month to get her head around the concept of paying a decent rate for staying at your house, using your water and facilities, eating your food, and taking up your space. But, only offer her two or three days to get her head around the new chore schedule that you have created, outlining the daily expectations of her commitment to keeping the household running. Don’t let her lay it all onto her kid either. Make sure the schedule that you create gives the kid an hour and the (non-working) Mom at least four hours of household chores. Be brutal. Otherwise, you are enabling her to sit at your house and have you and your husband support her.
Take a day with your husband to write out all the big and small chores that are done daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. Figure out what the grandkid can do (max one hour a day) and figure out what the daughter can do (she isn’t working so she could work at the house for eight hours a day). Figure out a fair room and board amount and then lay it out for them.
I don’t envy you, and you are coming at it from behind, but if you have a system and supportive partner, you can stop enabling your daughter from taking advantage of you and she clearly is. Even if you are home and retired, you aren’t responsible for supporting her. If she is taking up space in your home, she has to earn it and it should be expensive to her!
Stop Enabling Adult Children
As long as you enable this behavior, it will continue. People must experience consequences to change their behavior. Grandson or not, she needs to become independent. If depression or other conditions have been ruled out, she needs to take responsibility for her own life. There are lots of articles about how to do this online that can give you specific steps and actions to take.
Seek Custody of Grandkids
If your daughter simply refuses to do anything to lift a finger to help her situation, you may have to exercise some really tough love. Tell her that you can no longer support her and your grandchild without help, and that you will be seeking to get permanent custody of your grandchild, so you can then qualify for support in the form of AFDC, SNAP, etc. Give her a set time to find a job, and if she doesn’t, then you should move forward with your threat. If she is on her own (which will happen if something happens to you), she would be unable to support her child anyway. If you have to go all the way to taking custody, then simply move the adult child out and introduce her to the reality of a world where if you don’t work you don’t eat. As painful as it may be, doing so will be much better for her in the long run.
Provide Safe Haven for Grandson
It sounds like your daughter has mental health problems or is lazy. If it is the former, do what you can to encourage her to get help.
A couple of years ago, my daughter and two young grandsons landed on our doorstep. It became apparent there were drug addiction issues that did not improve. My daughter’s behavior was disruptive to our household and my husband and I felt we were enabling her lifestyle by allowing her to continue living with us. We helped her set some goals and deadlines to move out with the understanding we would keep the boys here if necessary. She did not meet the goals and did move out, leaving our grandsons with us. At that time, she was homeless and lived on the streets, but “tough love” was needed to encourage her to change. It was so, so hard on us as parents to kick her out and see the troubles she brought on herself.
We raised our grandsons for about a year and a half before my daughter made a loving adoption plan for them. She has worked hard to get off drugs and to find more stability for herself. Our grandsons are in a wonderful family now and our daughter, while not where we want her to be, has made great strides in her life.
You didn’t mention whether your daughter is able to be a good parent to her child, and certainly adoption is not the answer for most situations, but being pushed out of our house is what made my daughter eventually decide to make some changes in her life. I think setting a timeline with expectations for your daughter is in order, and although it was terribly hard to send my daughter out on the streets, it was what was needed. You can provide a safe home for your grandson while your daughter works out her problems.
How to Motivate Adult Children
I have had friends who have had adult kids “come home.” Sometimes they come with their own children in tow. When I had to move home (by myself) after my graduate school’s scholarship funding ran out, I was facing an absolutely flat job market without finishing my graduate degree. My parents invited me to move back home while I did an unpaid internship, took some career-oriented classes, and worked a part-time job at night. I was able to reroute my life and move to another city for a decent job about a year later. My parents did me the favor of treating me like a grownup while I was home, and you need to do the same thing for your daughter. She is clinging to her role as a full-time mom and may be experiencing depression over the shift in her life. It’s time for a serious conversation about getting her life back together.
One way to open this conversation may be to find a local women’s group that provides support and counseling to women returning to the workforce or facing divorce. Find out if there is a meeting or presentation, and offer to go with her. Express your concern that she needs more in her life, including friends, fun, her own space, and meaningful work. Tell her she cannot hide in your house any longer and needs to get a job, and perhaps take some classes to enhance her skills. Offer to let her stay while she carries out a reasonable job search plan, and tell her you will help her find a place to live once she is employed. Your local job center can make referrals for resume help and job training. You can even sometimes find adult classes and career information at the public library.
Don’t criticize her or condemn her or tell her she is being lazy. She will respond better to your support and concern. After all, the better off she is, the better off your grandson is. Remind her that you are available to provide childcare while she starts her new life, so she won’t be without back up as a single mom. Once she moves out, take your grandson from time to time to give her time for herself and encourage her to connect with friends.
No Work, No TV
I haven’t had that issue yet, but I would make sure the cable was connected only to the TV in my bedroom. Then I would tell my daughter that we would reroute the TV to the living room when she got a job and helped pay expenses.
You will need to be firm. Sit with her and tell her she needs to start job hunting. There are programs to help her. If her only income is child support, the state may be able to help her with assistance until she finds a job, but it is her responsibility to start searching. It’s a full-time job to find work, so there’s no time for daytime TV watching.
Expect some push-back. She is probably depressed and a little afraid of what the future holds for her. Be supportive and kind, but be firm. Don’t be manipulated, because she’s hurting herself if she doesn’t move forward. Encourage her to volunteer at her son’s school or the local food bank if she has free time during the job hunt.
Lastly, try to get your life back. Having your child and grandchild living with you for six months has to be rough, no matter how much you love them. Do something wonderful for yourself every day. Wishing you the best!
Reviewed January 2022
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