You thought that after 18 years your job would be more or less done -- your children would be self-sufficient and financially independent, living on their own, perhaps starting families. If you have a grown child living at home and you find yourself wondering where you went wrong, know that you're not alone. Some 14 million adult children live with their parents, almost one-quarter of all adults aged 25-35. Although it may seem contradictory to your role as a parent, encouraging your adult child to move toward independence will help both of you in the long run.
State Your Needs
Speak with your adult child and let her know, in no uncertain terms, that you would like her to move out. Although it is a difficult conversation for any parent to have, it will jump-start the series of actions that need to happen before your offspring can transition to fully independent living. She will need to start thinking long term, planning financially and actively seeking a new place to live. If she is currently out of work, it will also mean finding a stable source of income.
Establish a Timeline
Work with your child to determine a reasonable timeline for moving out. This will depend largely on what goals he has to achieve in the short term, which may include finding a job (or another job), locating an apartment, culling and consolidating his belongings and arranging the physical move. Although you don't want to give the illusion that he can take all the time he needs, be realistic about his move-out date. Set a date that is close enough that it will encourage him to start getting his ducks in a row immediately, but it won't overwhelm him.
While your adult child is still living under your roof as she prepares to leave, be sure that you are on the same page about what is expected of her. Should she be working a certain number of hours per week? Is she expected to pay rent? If so, how much and when? Is she required to pitch in to do errands and chores around the house? Make your expectations of her very clear, and approach the relationship from a tenant-client perspective rather than a parent-child one.
Don't assume that just because you've had your chat that your adult child is actively pursuing a life of independence. Check in regularly with your child, even if he accuses you of hovering or nagging. When you ask about his job or apartment search, remind him that his decisions and actions directly affect you and the agreement that you made. Use these frequent check-ins to address fears or worries about living on his own that your child is struggling with. Is he harboring resentment or anger toward you for "kicking him out"? Talking about this now, before he moves on, will help you maintain a relationship once he's gone.
In the Event of Abuse
Of course, if you are enduring verbal or physical abuse at the hands of your adult child, or if your adult child is stealing from you, your course of action for getting her out of the house shouldn't be nearly so flexible or abiding. If you or your spouse -- or any children or elders living in the household -- is being abused by your child, this is grounds for an immediate expulsion from the home. Your recourse should be swift and final. Check with your local law enforcement agency or domestic abuse center to learn more about your rights as a parent.