Muriel Cooper
Psychologist in Mornington

Teenagers and parenting

 

Kids moving houseIf living together with our grown up children just isn’t working out and you want them to move on, it can be a stressful and harrowing time.

Here are a couple of hints to help you through.

Be clear and calm and honest


In a clear, calm way, tell your child/children you want them to move out and in fact you expect them to. Also tell them why you want them to.

You are the householder/landlord and you have a right to live however you want to in your own dwelling.

It might feel strange to tell your children this as they might look on it as home as well, but if it isn’t working out for you that’s a deal-breaker. Wherever they live, assure them you’ll still be their mum and/or dad and you’ll be there for them come crunch time.

 

If there’s more than one parent, be consistent

As in all matters of parenting, it pays to be consistent. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page and not giving mixed messages (yes they’re clichés but they’re true – that’s how they get to be clichés).

Sit down and make a plan

Offer help and as part of that, ask them to sit down with you and make a move-out plan. Try to make it clear that this is an important part of their development and is an occasion that should be celebrated.

In that spirit, you might want to offer them some short term financial help to get a place and get started.

Offer to help furnish their room or apartment.

Help them with any other concerns they might have and ask them how they think it’s going to work.

Make an agreement about when you’re going to get together and how you’re going to communicate


After all you’re still a family. Maybe agree to a family night once a month for pizza and beer (it’s the kids that like pizza and beer – if you’ve read some of my other articles you might think I’m addicted – I’m not – well not very much anyway – only when the kids come around).

Be clear about moving back

Many young adults move out of home only to miss all the perks they had while they were there – like having their laundry done and their meals cooked. Don’t complain about this, if you didn’t train them to do their own laundry and cook meals you only have yourself to complain to. Sorry if this is a bit harsh but there it is; the bottom line.

So, make it clear that you expect them to make a go of it (with your help – not including laundry but maybe the odd meal) – and you don’t expect them back. However you love them madly and will miss them like hell.

Moving back can be very traumatic especially if there’s a relationship break-up involved or some other crisis – in this case problem-solve and be prepared for a possibly stressful adjustment period.

The empty nest syndrome

Some parents react to their kids leaving home with a feeling of grief and loss. Even though you resented all that laundry and all those meals, suddenly there doesn’t seem to be much to do.

However desperate you get, resist getting on the phone and begging them to come home. It will do neither of you any good. Wait – the feeling will pass. You could also talk to a psychologist about your feelings.

Guilty feelings of freedom

Some parents nestle down into their new found freedom and really start to enjoy it. Then they beat themselves up for kicking their kids out of home. Guilt is an emotion only designed to make you feel bad. Look at the situation realistically, remind yourself why you asked your kids to move out in the first place and wait for the feeling to pass. It will – everything does.

What if my kids refuse to move out?

This is serious. If they refuse to move out this is a serious violation of your rights as a parent as a landlord or landlady, not to mention a serious violation of trust.

Occasionally this becomes so serious that violence, intimidation or harassment is involved (this is assuming you are not the one who’s being abusive).

Options open to abused parents are:

 

  • Calling the Police and possibly taking out a restraining order on your child/ren
  • Calling Lifeline for referrals to agencies and self help groups for abused parents
  • Calling the Domestic Violence Helpline
  • The South Australian Government has a great section on their web site dealing with this topic
  • Consider having the locks changed and placing your children’s belongings in a secure state outside your property for them to pick up
  • Think about moving out yourself for a short time and then taking action to have your abusive children removed from your property


On a lighter note

Here’s a book that looks promising. Check your local bookseller to buy or order it:

101 Ways to Get Your Adult Children to Move Out (Paperback), by Rich Melheim

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