How Do I Nudge Them Out of the Nest?

A mother seeks advice on how to nudge her children out into the world.

What Would Debbie Do?

How do I Push Them Out of the Nest?

Dear Debbie,

I am a divorced 42-year-old mother of three; I have two daughters (23 and 16) and a son who is 19. They all live at home, and are going to school and working part time. I have always told my kids that if they go to school they do not have to pay rent, although they do have to pay for certain things like gas, entertainment, clothing etc.

My oldest two have moved out many times and whenever things don’t work out I allow them to come back. I thought I was free of this situation last July when I moved into a 2-bedroom apartment, but needless to say they all moved back in with me. So, just this past weekend we moved into a 4-bedroom home to make room for all of us. Here is my problem: They are selfish, spoiled brats. I know this is my fault for allowing them to come in and out without giving them any financial responsibilities. But now I don’t know how to change that.

My Mother kicked me out at a very young age and I swore I would neveer do that to my kids. My son flatly refuses to do anything, and says things like “I don’t eat here, I won’t clean the kitchen.” I feel taken advantage of. Now my daughter tells me that when her boyfriend returns in July he will be staying with her in her room. I don’t want this, but in the same token I don’t want to kick them out with no place to go.

I have a new man in my life and this is starting to wear on our relationship, (he too lives with us).

My question is: How do I get my kids to take responsibility for their lives so I can start to live mine without feeling as though I have deserted them? When my ex husband was around the kids had more because we each made more money, but now that it’s just me things are tighter. I cannot provide for them like I used to, and I feel as though I am being punished for that. Any advice would be helpful.

–Wanting to be Happy Again

Dear Wanting to be happy again,

It sounds like you have made great adjustments to accommodate your children and yet they remain ungrateful, self-centered and disinterested in your happiness. Excuse me, but did you say that your daughter told YOU that her boyfriend will be living with you next year?!? Clearly, you’ve lost control of your life and your family.

You need to make a list of all the things that need to occur, in order for you to be happy again. Start with obligations that each child has, chores that need to be done, and rules that need to be followed. Call a family meeting. Then lay it out, firmly and with great resolve. Whoever balks at these rules needs to find a new place to live (excluding the 16-year-old, of course.)

It’s time to restore order and discipline in your life, and you can do it lovingly but at the same time impart a sense of responsibility with your children. Truly, you deserve to have order and appreciation for all you do. And if your children are unwilling to give it to you, it’s time they learned a lesson or two about life. I believe in tough love. And I think this instance is screaming for it. Take a stand, and take back your life.

That’s what I would do…



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0 thoughts on “How Do I Nudge Them Out of the Nest?

  1. In NYC it is common for children to live with their parents for extended time. Rent is too high for me to afford so how could my 18 year old daughter afford it? She is in a community college but is not an academic high achiever. She’s not a go-getter. Not everyone gets to be financially successful. But she’s my daughter and because I love her I never want to see her homeless. I also never want her to have to choose to stay in a miserable relationship because she is financially dependent on a man.

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