It’s 6:30 a.m. The alarm shocks you as you just fell back to sleep after being awakened at 3 a.m. again when Johnnie came home, talking on his stupid Smartphone and banging around in the kitchen. You thought you were done with 3 a.m. feedings.
He’s sleeping on the sofa, game controller in hand, clothes and dishes everywhere. You thought you were done picking up his toys.
You have to get to work, so you can support his lazy behind. He can’t find the “right job” – which is kind of hard to do when he stays up all night and sleeps until 2 p.m. Isn’t it his turn to find work and support you?
Your husband slams the door … no goodbye … still mad from the fight you had because he gave a down payment and cosigned for that car Johnnie “needed” so he could look presentable at those job interviews he’s not going on – so much for your vacation.
Hard to believe that you were devastated when Johnnie left a few years ago. It’s sad to think that you and your husband had just learned how to relate again and now Johnnie’s home. You’ve lost your husband. You think, Is it me? Am I a terrible mother to want Johnnie out of the house?
According to Pew Research, of young adults ages eighteen to thirty-four, 42.8 percent of men and 36.4 percent of women live in their parent’s homes. These boomerang kids may be back because they need a safe place from a life trauma. Some never left. Some couldn’t get jobs, lost jobs, or could not afford to simultaneously rent and pay off their student loans.
The “right job”
If kids have amassed huge student loan debt from college, living independently requires higher paying jobs to repay the debt, pay for housing and all the other necessities of life. In the meantime, living at home may help them get their loan repaid … if they get a job and don’t get comfortable living with you.
Economic reality for parents
At a minimum, food, electric and water bills will increase. Often, if they haven’t found jobs yet, you may be tempted to pay their student loan and car payments, health insurance, and even give them spending money. Will you pay their speeding ticket?
If couples have not yet done so, they should be bulking up their retirement savings. US News and World Report shows that the median retirement savings for 45 to 49 year olds is $24,264. It’s not enough. Christian financial counselor Dave Ramsey stresses that parents need to focus on retirement because they will need that money to live, eat, and pay for shelter, with no ability to replenish the pot.
Having different parenting styles is big trouble. Many focus so much on their kids that they lose their connection to each other. No surprise that one of the highest divorce rates occurs when the nest empties – the parents have “grown apart” because they were connected to the kids instead of each other.
If these couples’ marriages survive but they haven’t learned boundaries, when the kids return, so will the trouble and the stress. You may end up giving or getting, “It’s him or me.”
What does the Bible say?
Well, the 11th Commandment is not, “Thou shalt let thy children stay/return home.”
However, the Bible does say, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are old, they will not leave it” (Proverbs 22:6). God wants you to “bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). He wants “godly children from your union” (Malachi 2:15). Pay special attention to the word, “union.” Your first duty is to your marriage and to your spouse.
How does this translate practically?
1. Check your marriage. You cannot direct your child in the paths of righteousness if your marriage is not whole and you are not acting in unity. As when the masks drop down in an airplane emergency, put yours on first, then you can help your child. Seek God to repair what needs to be repaired. Take marriage courses or seek counseling. Start a community group for BPA (Boomerang Parents Anonymous) for accountability.
2. Pray for God’s wisdom as to whether your child will grow in righteousness by being with you or whether you are enabling them to continue in ways that do not glorify God. Convey your heart for this to them.
3. Have a goal for hoped growth and a closer walk with the Lord.
4. Clearly set boundaries and expectations without treating them like children. They are adults, but it is your house. Have a meeting. Set timeframes. Decide what they will contribute (chores/money). Ensure they have a job, even it’s delivering pizza. Write an agreement delineating goals, responsibilities and consequences if unmet.
5. Measure progress. Check in with your spouse separately and then together with your child to assess whether goals are being met, and follow through with agreements.
6. Stay on your knees – together – in unity.
“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking” (James 1:5, NLT).
Patricia Hartman is a CPA/partner at Kofsky, Hartman & Weinger, PA. www.khwcpa.com. She is also a speaker and author of “The Christian Prenuptial Agreement” available at www.ChristianPrenuptial.com. She is also president of South Florida Word Weavers and a board member of Living Water Christian Counseling.