Kassir said parents should charge 30 percent of their child’s income, just as a rental property or mortgage company would calculate how much a person can afford to spend on housing.
If your child is not employed, you can substitute household chores for rent, Goyer said.
In some cases, parents might choose not to charge rent. That can help children save money and move out sooner.
Tom Miceli, who moved home to West Hartford, Conn., after graduating from nearbyWesleyan University with a bachelor’s degree in English last year, said his parents did not charge him rent, so he has saved all of the money he has earned working several part-time jobs. He is preparing to move to an apartment in New York with some friends in a few weeks, he said.
Don’t let your child get too comfortable. Pickhardt says parents should create a sense of “constructive discomfort” for their kids, so they are motivated to move out. By setting clear expectations for behavior and contributions to the household, and requiring that your child share information about his whereabouts and activities, you’re sending the message that this isn’t a free ride.
“They’re not coming home to collapse and be taken care of until they’re ready to move on,” Pickhardt said. “They’re coming home with a purpose, and the parents are there to help them achieve that purpose.”
Discuss ahead of time everything from television and computer time to chores, entertaining guests and smoking and drinking, Goyer said. She recommended setting up a weekly or monthly time to meet informally and talk about how things are going, and what is or isn’t working. Goyer also suggested a written contract outlining time frame, boundaries and responsibilities.
The Shackelfords said they allow their kids a fair amount of freedom. If the kids are not going to come home on a given night, Maureen said, they need to text or call to let their parents know. She hasn’t run into any big problems, but she thinks that the threat of losing car privileges would be enough to straighten out any problems.
“They’re very reliant on us, right down to car they drive, which we own,” she said. “If you don’t have wheels, you can’t get to work. It cuts you off. That’s a nice recourse.”
Be supportive. Although you want to make the living conditions not completely comfortable, Pickhardt said, it’s important to let your child know you are there for him and you want to help him. Offer help and advice without being judgmental or critical.
“It’s important that parents are not blaming the child,” Pickhardt said. “It should be, ‘I’m happy to put my life experience at your disposal, you have the freedom to ask about anything without fear of recrimination.’ ”
Miceli, 23, said his parents have helped him regroup and get ready to move out, hopefully for the last time. In some ways, he said, the year at home has been bittersweet because they all realize that if everything goes according to plan, he won’t be coming back to stay.
“We’ve always had a pretty close relationship, but it moved more toward being able to have adult conversations,” Miceli said.
“There’d be days when, for whatever reason, I was really frustrated, but my mom was very positive and would say, ‘You can do whatever you want; you just have to believe in yourself.’ That’s so corny in a way, but it’s better than ‘Why are you still here?’ I never got that from them.”