Columnist

The story of the New York parents who had to go to court to get a judge to evict their unemployed adult son is compelling.

In fact, it’s the nightmare of a lot of parents. You have a grown child who is suffering from arrested development. The son or daughter won’t work, isn’t paying rent or otherwise contributing to the household. This is the story Christina and Mark Rotondo told a State Supreme Court judge.

The parents wrote several letters asking their son to vacate their property, according to Douglass Dowty on Syracuse.com, which first reported on the case.

“The 30-year-old argued for a half-hour with a judge in Upstate New York on Tuesday, saying that while he knew his parents wanted him out of their split-level ranch, he was entitled — as a family member — to six months’ notice before an eviction,” Dowty wrote. “But after half an hour of back-and-forth, primarily between the son, Michael Rotondo, and the judge, the judge had had enough. Rotondo would have to move out, the judge ruled. He also ordered adult protective services to investigate, expressing concern about what was going on.”

Read more: Judge praises 30-year-old son’s legal research, boots him from parents’ house anyway

There are a lot of opinions about what went wrong. Here are comments from The Washington Post article on the Rotondos’ ordeal.

A 30-year-old demanded notice for eviction from his parents’ house. ‘Outrageous,’ a judge said.

One reader wrote: “Interesting that so many of you pity the parents. . . . They have permitted this for years. And, now, when he ignores their pleas to leave their house, they have to resort to court to get their son out of their house. How little respect he must have for them to put them through this. How little respect for them they have instilled in him that he would be so disrespectful.”

Another said: “If he was a success, they’d take credit. He is not a success. They should take credit for that, too. Parents are their children’s first teachers. I started preparing my children for their future away from Mom and Dad when they were in grade school. My children will tell you they knew they couldn’t remain at home and certainly never conceived that Dad would serve them with an eviction notice rather than rent them an eviction U-Haul.”


Michael Rotondo, left, sits during an eviction proceeding in Syracuse, N.Y., brought by his parents, Mark and Christina. (Douglass Dowty/Post-Standard/Syracuse.com/AP)

And a third noted: “I am unsure why anyone would want to live with their parents after 18 years of age, except for extenuating circumstances. My parents were awesome and prepared us for the realities of life. When we were young our parents explained to us how the world works. Get a job, do not depend on anyone and contribute to society. . . . We were all cut off financially at 18 but were given a college education and a food plan during school. The rest was up to us. To quote my dad, ‘We have future plans and they don’t include you. Thanks for the memories and keep in touch.’ ”

Here’s the thing. There are a lot of good reasons an adult child lives at home — and it’s not necessarily a sign of immaturity or the failure to launch. Shared housing, especially in high-cost areas, can be a very prudent thing to do. And, frankly, the circumstances don’t always have to be exceptional. My husband and I are encouraging our children to return home after college so that when they launch they will have a sweet amount of savings.

If your adult child is graduating from college with student loan debt, it’s not a sign of irresponsibility if they want/need to come home to dig out from under that debt.

Read more: ‘Doubling up’ a new home trend: Adult children moving back in with their parents. Parents living with their grown children. Friends or siblings cohabitating as roommates.

“I struggled in my 20s with career and education misfires,” one Post reader wrote. “I left home and came back for a few years. I paid rent. Once I finally got on the right trajectory, I left and did not come back. I am grateful to my parents.”

But if you find yourself in the situation like the Rotondos, be sure to know what the law in your state says about putting someone out of your home. It may not be as easy as changing the locks and putting your child’s things on the lawn.

Read more: How to Kick Your Adult Slacker Out of the House

I’m an advocate for shared housing arrangements. It just makes economic sense for a lot of people. But to do it right, you have to have a plan. You have to set ground rules before you invite your adult child to move back.

Listen to this NPR interview I did about Not-so-empty nests: When adult children live at home

So what’s the right way to help a young adult launch without creating an extended dependency? Read the following columns.

Read more: The financial case for welcoming your adult children back home

“May I suggest we all make an effort to remove the stigma of young adults returning home as a financial embarrassment? It is not, especially if parents allowed or encouraged a student to attend a college that necessitated some heavy borrowing.”

Read more: Guidelines for kids who move back home to gain their financial footing

“Whether you charge your young adults rent or ask them to contribute to the household expenses in your shared space depends on their financial situation and goals. If living at home is an option, you just need to make sure your young adult is being helped — and not hindered — in becoming financially independent.”

Read more: How, and how much, to help a college grad

Advice for when to charge rent:

Read more: She’s 30 and lives in her parents’ basement. Should they support her boyfriend, too?

“Parents have to distinguish between help and a handout to someone who isn’t trying his or her best to be independent. I’m particularly concerned about parents who are retired and digging into limited retirement funds to help an irresponsible adult stay that way. You are doing your child a disservice — and really, you aren’t being a good parent when you enable poor behavior. If the spigot is never turned off, it will run dry. Then what?”

Read more: Helping your adult children learn to fly

“Times are different. The financial protections that may have been in place in the past are largely gone. Pensions, for example, have become a rare safety net. Who knows how much Social Security will change by the time they can collect it? Affordable housing is a major concern in many parts of the country. Absolutely be cautious about your assistance if your child is irresponsible. But we ought to be more compassionate about helping young adults financially establish themselves.”

Color of Money question of the week
Have you or would you allow your adult child to come back home to live? If you’re an adult child who lives at home, how’s that working out for you? Send your comments to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line put “Adult children living at home.”

Live chat
Please join me Thursday at noon (Eastern) for a live discussion about your money. I’m happy to help you find an answer a financial dilemma.

Here’s the link to join the conversation.
https://live.washingtonpost.com/color-of-money-live-20180524.html

Shopping while black: African Americans still face retail racism

Last week, I wrote about Nordstrom Rack having to apologize for calling the police on three black teens who were just shopping for the prom.

In a survey of African American residents of greater New York City, a researcher found that 80 percent reported they have experienced retail racism.

Read more: Shopping while black: African Americans continue to face retail racism

So I asked folks if they have been the victim of discrimination while shopping.

“I have had many, many incidents of racial profiling while shopping in retail stores and other places,” wrote a reader from Columbus, Ohio.

“In New York City one year, I was browsing around stores on 5th Avenue with my mom and sister,” wrote Patricia Young from Clinton, Md. “We were in the Louis Vuitton store and I picked up a bag to look at that I actually liked. As soon as I put it down, the clerk … put it back behind the counter as if I might try to steal it. I just rolled my eyes at her and left.”

Kevan from Denver wrote about an experience his wife had. She is an African Brazilian who immigrated to the United States.

“My wife was shopping with two visiting cousins (also black and Latina) in a Forever 21 store. My wife left the store to buy a coffee, and in her absence the store management called the local police department on her cousins,” he wrote. “Neither of her cousins speak fluent English and were trying on clothing in the changing room when the police arrived. They were escorted from the store and questioned on the sidewalk. Fortunately, my wife arrived and was able to intervene with the officers. Her cousins explained that they noticed store employees following them and that they had acted in the same manner as white clients in the store:  browsing and taking large amounts of clothing to try on in the changing rooms. I want to emphasize that the officers behaved professionally and did not charge either cousin, but they were prohibited from returning to the store. I remember that my wife’s younger cousin was reduced to tears from the embarrassment and shame of the incident.”

Tiffani Clements from Manassas, Va., wrote a common complaint from black shoppers: clerks who don’t think they can afford the merchandise.

“My friend and I went to [a] Valentino store and I saw a lovely pair of flat, strappy jeweled sandals. I had every intention of buying them, but I was put off by the salesman’s demeanor. He clearly didn’t want to wait on me, so as much as I wanted those sandals, I refused to spend my money in that store and left.”

Oprah Winfrey given Swiss apology for ‘racist treatment’ over handbag: Billionaire media mogul says Zurich shop assistant refused to show bag, saying it was too expensive for her

Color of Money columns this week
Knowledge isn’t power. The right knowledge is power.

Stay informed about your money.

In addition to this newsletter, please read and share my weekly personal finance columns.

What people get wrong about 529 college-savings plans

Millennials get plenty of financial advice — most of it is wrong

Newsletter comments policy
Please note it is my personal policy to identify readers who respond to questions I ask in my newsletters. I find it encourages thoughtful and civil conversation. I want my newsletters to be a safe place to express your opinion. On sensitive matters or upon request, I’m happy to include just your first name and/or last initial. But I prefer not to post anonymous comments (I do make exceptions when I’m asking questions that might reveal sensitive information or cause conflict).

Have a question about your finances? Michelle Singletary has a weekly live chat every Thursday at noon where she discusses financial dilemmas with readers. You can also write to Michelle directly by sending an email to michelle.singletary@washpost.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read more Color of Money columns, go here.

Follow Michelle Singletary on Twitter @SingletaryM and Facebook