Full-Nest Syndrome

As children grow, they learn more and more about independence – from learning to walk, to feeding themselves, and so on.  Then comes learning to drive, earning a little income from a part-time job, and getting ready for college or tech school.  Once the education is completed, parents usually look forward to watching their children live on their own and start the process over again with their own families.

However, many children are choosing to come back home and live with their parents, or expecting their parents to fund an apartment or help them purchase a house.  A Financial Planning article calls this the “full-nest syndrome”.

One example talks about a child that demanded payments from his parents to fund his “independent” lifestyle.  A further look into the parents’ financial situation showed that if they were to do so, they would not be able to support themselves for very long.

So how do parents deal with the expectations of their children when they may not be able to afford it?  Obviously, the best time to deal with this is long before it happens – when they are very young.

Beginning when a child is still a toddler is not too young.  Get them a small bank that they can play with and teach them about saving.  As they get older, give them three containers to place their money in – one that holds their offering at church, one that holds their savings, and the last one to hold what they can spend now.  Allow them to “wish” for a toy or game that they will have to save up for in order to get.  As their understanding increases, talk to them about living expenses for the family so they won’t have “sticker shock” when they do decide to leave home.  Help them set up a budget.  Require them to help pay for their first car, insurance, clothing, etc.  And by all means, teach them that when they are grown and are able to support themselves, that they will be expected to do so.

If this hasn’t happened and your children are ready to move back in, the independence discussion will be harder, but it needs to happen.  There will always be situations that require a parent’s help from time to time, and anytime a parent wishes to bless their children, it is certainly acceptable, but it should never be ongoing.  The Bible teaches the adverse effects of a “sluggard”, both to himself and to others.  Let’s do our best to teach our children to work as if they are working for the Lord, because they really are.

About the Author
Valerie, the Foundation's Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, is a certified public accountant and certified financial planner. She joined the Foundation in 2000 and has over 20 years' experience in the financial and estate planning fields. Valerie is responsible for investment oversight, estate planning, audit, tax, and account management.

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