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When is it time for an adult child to move out?

There comes a point in every parent's life when they wonder if their child needs to leave. How do you help them? For how long? Are there any reasons why you should kick your adult children out of the house and stop providing them with assistance?

Some children live at home because, financially, they cannot make it on their own. Many times I run into issues with parents where children are not emotionally ready to make it on their own. But is that a reason for them to stay home? Sooner or later, as parents, we have to convey to our children that it is time to move out and live on their own.

When should we consider making our adult children leave the home?

As long as our adult children contribute positively to the home, cleaning, participating in healthy relationships, contributing to the order of the household, and being grateful, there is nothing wrong with them living at home. There is more to it than a child paying rent. Rent doesn't matter if your child is a bad influence on his siblings, not helping or carrying any weight, and/or disrespectful. They have to contribute to the order and well-being of the household. These things need to be communicated to the adult child.

If these things do not happen, it is time to pack up their stuff and put it in the front yard. I suggest to my clients to give their child a letter telling them they are offically moved out, and that they can take their stuff and move it to a friend's house or bring it back into the house, depending if they are willing to do these things they have listed. If your child decides to bring their things back into the home, they agree to do the things on the list, and you will hold them to it. You have to set very clear boundaries. From my experience, if parents do not set clear boundaries and are not willing to kick their adult children out of the house, things will become much worse and so strained that the relationship will be damaged beyond repair. If you break the relationship because your child has not respected your boundaries early on, there will be more hope for salvaging the relationship.

It is also important to remember the world will be harder on our children than we will ever be. They need to learn hard lessons from us, knowing you will always welcome them back home. Keep communication open with your child and have them over often. Let them know you are there if need provided they are willing to respect your boundaries.

Odell Terrell is a mental health counselor in Greensboro, NC. He graduated with a MS in Counseling from Divine Mercy University in Arlington, VA, and places an emphasis on working with spiritual integration, adults and adolescents, trauma, family and children, and grief and loss. Odell received his undergraduate degree from the University of St. Leo's in St. Leo Florida, with a degree in Psychology. He has spent his last 15 years working in the field of emergency services. It is in working with people in emergency situations, both patients and first responders, that Odell has learned how to deal respectively with people in crises mode, helping instill a sense of hope and healing. Odell is happily married, for 17 years, and is the father of 9 children and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his family and child therapy practice.

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