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Homeless Adult Children Moving Home With Parents
To help or not to help, this is the question
No parent ever wants to see their adult children become homeless. Sometimes when moving from one place to another, they have a week or two that they have no place to live, or maybe they must move and find that they do not have enough for deposits, and need to save money for a while before they can go anywhere. What do we do? Should we loan or give them the money, let them move back into your home for a while, and these questions become especially complex when they have a family and your grandchildren are involved in this decision.
I have three grown male children, all in their early thirties. Two of them are very stable, and do not ever need my help but the oldest one, for one reason or another seems to be the one in need, almost every time there is a major decision, or a move. I find it incredibly impossible to say no, you cannot come here, and I will not help you, but I also must be honest with you and admit that in the past, it has not helped him much and in the end I felt as though I was enabling him to do things the wrong way. Instead of planning ahead, saving, or doing whatever it was that needed to be done to complete the move, he found it much easier to ask me for help. This help then enabled him to spend his money in other ways, and it would take several times longer for him to actually find someplace for himself. I also can say that he does not find it easy to plan his finances, and I am finding that the more I help him, the more he seems to need it.
On the flip side of this coin, I cannot under any circumstances find it in myself to deny him shelter, and to actually make him live a homeless lifestyle, even if it is only for a short amount of time. I am very glad that there are no grandchildren involved in this messy matter of the heart and mind. This does make it much easier for me to stick to my guns when he goes over the line in asking for help.
I believe that this particular offspring would be happy to move in with us on a permanent basis, paying rent on a room or some such agreement, but I do not feel that would be a good idea, at least not at this time, for there is not a need for him to help me or look after me or anything like that. I feel that this may be part of his need to be back in the home with me, for he is always the kid who comes in and looks into my refrigerator to make sure there is food in it and to see that I am not in need in any way, or at least this is what he says.
This sort of arrangement was not heard of with the last generation, and because of our economic situation I know that quite a few of my friends do have one or more of their kids, or other extended family living with them, sharing rents, bills and so forth. I personally feel that I want a little bit of privacy and do not want to be included in the friends of my son and their plans, and this tends to happen when he stays with us.
It is difficult to know what the right thing is sometimes. I want him to be independent, and with us helping him whenever he asks, he is not being as independent as he needs to be to live and have a family of his own, and that is the goal, is it not? So we go along, and play it by ear, trying as best as we can to get him to look after himself. I do insist that he pays his share of the food bill, and so on when he is here, and he even does his share of the chores, but still I feel deep down that he is not doing all that he should be to not need me so much. I sometimes feel that he is insecure in his decision making skills, and this may be a part of his problem.
So, regardless of everything, when I get that phone call, explaining to me that he needs to stay with us for a couple of weeks until his apartment is ready, or until he gets a paycheck and has his deposits, or whatever the problem is, I find that I tell him yes, again, and once more have the discussions about planning his money better, or about not spending on some things that he wants, when he knows he is going to have to move.
I feel that family should be there for family when there is a need, but then again, I do not want to be the cause of his inabilities to take care of himself. Sometimes it is hard to know what is the right thing to do. It is the tough love I must stand by, and knowing when it must be used. We have decided to help him this time, for it would not be good for him to go through a hardship when he does have a place to move on the first, so we have let him come home again, but I have decided that this will be the last time, and have told him just that.
Adult children can play parents, for who knows you better than your child. It can be very easy to fall into a habit of helping, if only because it is easier sometimes to just give them the money they need and get them squared away and headed in the right direction, but is the easy way the right way. Maybe we as parents never stop being the teachers to our kids, even as adults, and it is our responsibility to hold out and not help them at those times that we feel that they are not doing the right thing, but are doing the easy thing by asking our help. We must not fall into that trap of helping just so that they are caught up with their bills and so on. They must learn how to pay those bills by themselves.
So, be loving, and be helpful, but don't do it for them. Remember that they must learn to stand on their own two feet. Don't let them sink, but allow them the lessons of learning to swim on their own. Help, but not too much, and it is all so confusing. Being a parent is a never ending job, and sometimes I feel that I will never know all the right answers, but I will lovingly do my best.