Transition. During any transition stage your child endures, it is easy to assume that home equals paradise. It is safe, comforting and secure--providing cushion time to figure life out and leap into "the real world." How do we inspire a young person to leave home when they know the pantry is stocked, bills are almost nonexistent and they can live in a place where they're loved for free?
So, why should kids leave home instead of moving home when faced with a big transition post-graduation? I believe it is nearly impossible for our generation of young men and women to actually risk pursuing passion with such a bubble of comfort as the home life environment provides. While many parents fear forcing their children out of the house before they're ready, for many others it is time to get their adult-babies out of the house before their children get gray hair.
What is keeping youngsters from moving out? For one, the responsibility of fending for themselves is daunting. When I entered the "real world," I still wanted to be able to live without limits and have fun without all of the responsibilities bills brought to my life. Money suddenly seems to solve all issues and those that thought they would never proclaim it to be true suddenly believe money actually can give them happiness. All of the passion that education ingrained in me was out the window, and I, like many others, just wanted a job that could get me money--and lots of it.
There is an enormous insecurity and fear of not having freedom financially that all of us must face in order to mature into adults. By keeping your child secure financially, be it at home or during a transition, you risk enabling their lack of motivation. Our economic crisis is very real--I'm not encouraging you to carelessly throw your kids to the wolves, but I believe the first step of weaning your child off the financial teat is opening up this sensitive conversation.
3 Ways to get your kid to move forward and out of your house (with love):
1. Demand an exchange: Let them give to you. You are not a bed and breakfast, but your child is also a fully capable adult and should not be treated like a spoiled child. It is hard for a child to understand the concept of exchange--we've been given to on such an unconditional level, it is easier to take than it is to give. This can exist in simple, practical ways. To begin, require your child work for their "rent." Ask yourself what your child could do to really help you? Utilize their skills, the ones you helped them acquire, and put them to work. The key is to stop handing them money and treating them like royalty because not doing so will help them become the best version of themselves.
2. Encourage what really excites them: My generation is frozen, in some cases, by the parents who want them to live a certain life the way they think it should be. There's pressure to attend a certain college or pursue a certain degree or career. Parents must give their kids a chance to discover their gifts and live lives that excite them. You have to accept that your kid has unique gifts and abilities that may take them on nontraditional paths or life journeys. Shake up life with new ideas, even in this economy, and encourage your child in all of their endeavors. This will surely establish a life for your child full of fulfillment. Go beyond your firm idea of what you've always imagined their life looking like or what you believe it "should" look like and support their path, whatever it may be.
3. Let them go: If you feed a stray cat once, it'll come back forever. Likewise, if you backtrack and begin to make your child breakfast every morning, take them shopping or give them money for fun with their friends, you'll begin to understand that your child has become your lifelong roommate. Instead, encourage their independence and let them live life to its true potential without you. Breaking free is scary and they may fail, but beautiful opportunities are inevitable along the way as well.
Above all, let your children go and let them flourish.