Unless you really want your 30-something children living in your basement, you’ll want a plan to help your adult children get successfully launched as independent, self-reliant adults. The planning starts at age 29 — not their age 29, your age 29!
When you are a young parent, you need to start thinking about the things that allow people to be successful adults and how you’ll help them obtain that.
Here are some specific tips to help you start thinking about this while there is still time:
Independence requires a job that pays enough to cover food, rent and other necessities. It’s hard to get a job like that without a college education or years of experience — and you don’t want to wait for the years of experience to kick in. Make sure your kids apply themselves in school and go to college.
Consider paying for school
Paying for college without parental help is a real challenge. You can, ironically, help your children leave the nest by allowing them to live at home while they are in college. If you can also help with tuition, that may accelerate their successful independence.
As your children grow up, make sure that they have some summer camp or study abroad experiences where they live away from home for a time so that they learn that they really can survive on their own.
If you have children living with you, whether they are 6, 16 or 26, they should be doing chores. You are doing your adult children no favors if they are allowed to live at home as sloppy sultans who do nothing and are waited upon like princes.
From the time your children are 16 years old (maybe younger) they should be expected to have an independent source of income that helps to cover their social spending. Parents should provide food, shelter and clothing to their minor children, but not necessarily cell phones, cars and gas money. The earlier they learn to take responsibility for this themselves, the more likely they will be ready to provide for themselves as adults.
Buying a home
Parents often help their children get into a first home. It may be cheaper than housing them for the rest of their lives. If you have the resources, providing a gift equal to a down payment is an investment in their success that may be worth making. Otherwise, you may want to contract with them to allow your adult children to live at home for a specified period of time, provided they are saving an amount equal to rent for their own down payment.
Parents love their children and love having them around. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking that somehow you both benefit from a perpetual boarding relationship. You can’t take care of them forever — eventually, you’ll be gone. They need to learn to be fully self-reliant adults at some point. Life is really all about facing and overcoming challenges, not avoiding them. Give your kids the chance to really live; don’t protect them from it.
Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.