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The Retirement Wrecker You Never Imagined

Category: Family and Retirement

Editor’s note: The family we described in this article are not real, they are hypothetical. However the kinds of problems they experienced are real and painful. For a variety of reasons, more and more Americans are living in multi-generational households – 31% of those aged 25- to 29 in 2014 were living in households with parents and/or grandparents.

January 3, 2107 –June and Jim thought that their exquisitely laid retirement plan was solid. They had done so many things well – they had set up a regular savings plan, hired a good financial advisor, thought about how they would stay busy, and even made some scouting trips to potential retirement destinations. But due to circumstances they never imagined, June and Jim are worried that their retirement dream is probably finished – before it even started.

The problem wasn’t with the couple’s plan, it was their adult children. Margaret had been a great student and athlete in high school and even into college. But she lost focus somewhere along the line, and even though she graduated with a B.A. she couldn’t land a good job. So she moved back home, where she remains, not making enough to move out on her own, and her parents haven’t have the heart to ask her to pay rent. That was 5 years ago.

Justin also did well until he finished high school. Towards the end of that he came home kind of dreamy and smoky. He never left home, although he did father a child along the way. He borrowed money from them, and hasn’t repaid it. June and Jim are helping to raise the child. After many unsettling situations it became clear their son was addicted to drugs, and the parents have already paid for 2 unsuccessful rehabs.

When it became clear that their carefully laid retirement plan was in jeopardy, June and Jim met with their financial advisor. She warned, unfortunately, that unless they took drastic steps, they were never going to be able to retire in the style to which they had planned.

The advisor pointed out three big problems that needed to be addressed:

One, the adult children were both financially dependent on their parents. They had nowhere to live and could not support themselves.

Two, because of point #1, the couple did not have the retirement savings they had planned on. Instead, as they leave their peak earning years behind, they had spent that money on rehabs, loans, legal fees, etc.

Three, even if they had the money to do so, they can’t move to the active adult or 55+ community they had hoped to. Downsizing isn’t an option because there wouldn’t be enough room, and age restrictions might prohibit their children and grandchildren from living in a 55+ community.

Some of the problems boomers have with their adult children
Our hypothetical couple above experienced most of the problems that boomers experience when their adult children fail to live independently. Here is a more complete list (maybe you could add some more):
– Living at home as adults, sometimes without paying rent
– Borrowing or asking for large sums of money
– Addictions and rehab
– Prison
– Raising and caring for grandchildren
– They might be financially independent, but have cut off contact with you or other family members

Difficult problems
It is hard to predict when a child will fail to be able to live independently. Sometimes the ones you never expect fall into that category, while others show signs of trouble from an early age. Special needs children are yet another challenge that many parents manage with love and sacrifice.

Another difficult problem occurs when adult children stop having contact with their parents, or refuse to let them see their grandchildren. These situations are usually complex and there might be plenty of room for blame. If you experience this situation you should examine yourself to see if you have a role in the problem. Counseling might be a very useful thing to save a terrible situation.

What to do
We are not psychologists and would not deign to give advice. Adult children who are not financially independent can jeopardize your retirement happiness. Your life is important too. Talking with a qualified mental health or family counselor is always a good idea. The act of talking with someone else and getting an outside opinion can be enormously helpful.

Valuable Resources
In addition to these articles there are many helpful books and magazine articles on the subject:
Help Your Adult Child Move Out -Six Steps to Help Your Adult Child Move Out
Stop Enabling Your Overly Dependent Adult Child
Kids Who Don’t Launch
More Adult Americans Live with Their Parents and Grandparents
How to Close the Bank of Mom and Dad
My Wife Gives Our Son $25,000 a Year, What Should I Do?

For further reading for another problem, when your kids won’t talk with you:
Some Grown Kids Cut Their Parents
When Your Grown Kid Won’t Talk to You

Do you have experience dealing with this problem, and do you have any suggestions for how to manage it? If so please share your thoughts in the Comments section below. To maintain a sense of compassion on this difficult problem, please try to keep to your own personal experience (not your neighbors) and stick to practical rather than judgmental advice.

Posted by Admin on January 3rd, 2017


  1. We know this man who went through a very ugly messy divorce. He kept the house and refinanced it and his two sons stayed with him. The one son was just graduating from HS and the other was going to trade school and had about two more years to go. The older one was supposed to go to college but didn’t and has been flip flopping in different jobs and now seems to take a seasonal job so he has winters off. The younger son graduated trade school and was supposed to complete two years under a licensed tradesman then could apply to take his test to become licensed. He can’t be bothered. He had a job but quit it and now is flip flopping tearing up cars for scrap metal and ruining his fathers yard and doing it illegally. The father asked them at least once to help with some of the expenses like electricity or heating oil. They both had a hissy fit and threatened to leave where they could live for free. The older one did leave for about a week but had to come home to do laundry! Never heard of a laundromat I guess. Neither pays a dime and think nothing of it. The father allows it. One is about 24 and the other is about 21 and are still eligible to be on Daddy’s health insurance too. Why would these perfectly healthy freeloaders leave? The father is an enabler and not doing these kids any favors. I know of other families with kids in the mid 20’s that don’t work and there is nothing wrong with them. Parents need to encourage these kids to get a job and stick with it until something better comes along. Most of us worked at jobs we hated and that was the motivation to find something better.

    by Louise — January 4, 2017

  2. Thanks so much TR!!
    I just read the article on “When your kids won’t talk to you” and have already sent it to both of my children and my two best friends. Thanks for providing suggestions on what seems to be a universal problem. Right now we’re paying cell phone bills and car insurance for our two, under 30, working children. After reading your article I consider myself lucky!!! Thanks !!

    by Florence — January 4, 2017

  3. Another difficult problem occurs when adult children stop having contact with their parents, or refuse to let them see their grandchildren. These situations are usually complex and their might be plenty of room for blame. If you experience this situation you should examine yourself to see if you have a role in the problem. Counseling might be a very useful thing to save a terrible situation.

    by ella — January 4, 2017

  4. For over 6 years I have seen families taking in healthy adult children. I have had conversations with other parents telling them, there is no excuse for their child not to pay the parents rent.(Save that rent money for them for 6 months and tell them to get out!) It is like these adult children want what they became accustom to growing up, but don’t want to work for it. A movie “Failure to Launch” comes to mind. I suggest it for anyone who has an adult child living with them.

    by DeyErmand — January 4, 2017

  5. Good article.
    Yes, this story hit home with me. I’m going through a similar phase with my youngest, an 18 year old son that graduated high school last year. I told him last week if he doesn’t go to college or vocational school within one year then he needs to leave my house or else he’ll find all his stuff in the front yard and the door locks changed. Tough love worked with my two older kids that left years ago. Both of them are currently independent and self supporting.

    by Colorado Living — January 4, 2017

  6. Perfect timing for my wife and I. We downsized from a 5 bedroom house to a 2 bedroom condo that has a finished basement with another bedroom, full bath and family room. Our youngest son graduated from college and moved in to the basement. Our other 3 children were all on their own. Our basement dwelling son does have a full time job and could afford his own place, but he also needed a new car. We told him to buy that and pay it off before moving out. He pays no rent or contribute to monthly bills. We warned him that was going to change and he’d have to kick in some minimal money each month. He’s OK with that and he is no bother so no issue with him still living with us. Our daughter who had moved out of state is now going thru a divorce. She has 2 your children and can not afford a place on her minimal salary. We moved her back in with us while she gets on her feet. But with a 1 year old and a 6 year old, it is hard for her to get a job that would pay the rent & bills including child care. Daddy is no help but we’re glad he is out of the picture. So our little condo is bursting at the seams. We have the 6 year old’s bed on the floor in the master bedroom with us and a crib set up in the guest bedroom where our daughter sleeps. We paid thousands to maintain the jeep she owned just convinced her sell that), her personal property tax, bought out her lease in Florida and will probably pay for the divorce lawyer. While we love having the grand kids back in the same city with us, our retirement fund is taking a hit and my retirement life (that I started just 6 months ago) is more stressful than any job I ever had. Have not figured out how to deal with all this emotionally or financially.

    by Dennis — January 4, 2017

  7. These kinds of situations are so sad. I see them all too frequently in my coaching practice. By the time people seek help the pattern is so well entrenched it is almost impossible to reverse without estrangement and heartache following.

    by Sara Zeff Geber — January 4, 2017

  8. Dennis, I am no expert on this by any means but first I would get your daughter to a divorce lawyer to find out what her rights are. As hard as it might be to accept, she is a grown woman with children. There are social services she may be able to apply for such as food stamps and housing. There might even be a stipend for child care so she can work even if it is for minimum wage. She should get child support but by the sounds of it he may be a dead beat. If so, this article says the SS check can be garnished. However, that would be many years down the road. If she can get housing and food stamps that would be a help. She will also need insurance for her and the kids. If she could get housing, that would help you pare down the amount of people living in your condo.

    by Louise — January 4, 2017

  9. Boy does the article and comments hit home…nothing new under the sun! My husband and I have the same situation going on with our children and grandchildren some of our five children speak to us some don’t; we don’t see our grandchildren much either…we currently are housing my youngest (he just started paying rent) son off parole now for a year, he was blessed to have his father and brother put in a good word to their employer and was given a chance to prove himself and has been promoted last month for shop supervisor…his girlfriend moved in mid last year…I OK’d that however I should of established getting some monies from her to help with the increased cost of water, electricity, heat etc., which as of today and all these posts I just texted her that we need to talk and that I need her to pay some rent moving forward and holding the kids to a move out date of June this year! I have to say to everyone that I realize with my last two boys I was an enabler wanting to do and give all their needs…not sure why I became that way…my first three children I was loving mom but not as giving such as chores, getting a job if you want to drive, to out and have pocket money etc., So three children self sustaining and two not so much…lesson learned. Retirement … I would like to sell the home were are in and downsize; my husband on the fence… but no savings to speak of…our fault will have to come up with plan C. Have a good day everyone.

    by Anita Caldwell — January 4, 2017

  10. Back in 1972, I returned to OH after graduating from college in VA. The station wagon was loaded and we pulled into the drive-way. I started to unload the car and my dad asked what I was doing. Unpacking? No, find an apartment, get ready to teach in the fall and do what I was trained to do! My dad, so intelligent…

    by Keitha Lane — January 4, 2017

  11. We have a daughter who will turn 40 in a few months who whe have been “helping out” since she was 21, pregnant, just starting college. After graduation and several jobs in sales and getting laid off 3 times she decided to change careers and went back to school. She had finally moved out for 2 years with her son but then had to move back because she couldn’t afford school and rent. We figured once she got her Masters Degree she would be able to afford to move out but she couldn’t find full time job teaching for a year and a half and then needed a new car. She pays $500 a month rent and says she won’t be able to move out for 2 more years. Now her son is starting college in the fall and I wonder what the excuse will be when he needs help. My husband became disabled 5 years ago and I had hoped to down size this year but he doesn’t want to until she is able to afford to live on her own. I think she should have to figure it out like we did when we first started out with nothing. Like the article says you never know what will get in the way of retirement. I thought we would travel and relax but now with his disability and our not agreeing on a timeline for her to move out, our retirement is on hold until ???

    by Marge — January 4, 2017

  12. My 26 year old son who is self supporting (almost) is contemplating graduate school while reducing from working full time to working part time (still making good money). There’s a good possibility he will be moving back home, at least for a while. The first words I’m saying to him, “Welcome back, don’t drink all our wine and you’re paying us rent”. Lol, but I think I read somewhere that adult children living at home cost between 6-8,000$ a year in increased costs to parents. .

    by Staci — January 4, 2017

  13. This is heartbreaking for the parents, but also what will happen to these dependent adults once their parents pass on? Parents do not help kids by enabling them. They help kids by encouraging them out of the nest and telling them to get a life. Sure, there are some children with disabilities who need real help, and there are some social services available for some problems people have. But this is not what we are talking about. I agree that sometimes it is necessary to help an adult family member, but based on a plan and a deadline for that help to end.

    As a young adult, I used the bus for years before I was able to afford a car. I lived in a tiny apartment (and briefly at my dad’s house where I saved money to move out), shopped at Goodwill, ate at home, took lunches to work, used the library for entertainment and the internet, found free or inexpensive entertainment, kept my eye on the prize, and earned the degree that put me into a good job. I paid my way through college by working fulltime and going to school part-time. As a retiree, I will live similarly, and I already know how to do it.

    I hear some people complain about the welfare state creating generations of people on welfare. Now I see generations of adult children living at home with their parents, not to help their parents, but because they won’t get out on their own. That to me is a precursor to an elderly welfare state. If a parent does not teach a child to stand on their own two feet, two or more generations will suffer along with society. None of us are legally entitled to carry a Smart Phone, eat out several times a week, or drive a nice car. These are perks to be earned, not to be expected. Helping an adult child to learn to earn their perks benefits everyone. Suggestion: Sit down with your child, develop a plan and a deadline, and stick to it. A life is a terrible thing to waste.

    by Elaine C. — January 4, 2017

  14. Elaine C., I get where you’re coming from. I’m a Boomer and the US was a very different place when I was a young adult. To start with, jobs were plentiful, entry-level positions that required no previous experience were available in most companies. And these were real jobs, unpaid internships were unheard of. Apartments were easy to find, rents were reasonable and one phone line served an entire household.

    All of my friends were in the same boat – we bought stereos or TVs with our tax refund checks, but our albums were housed in orange crates and our shelves were cinderblocks and 2 X 4 boards. We drove cars that held together with duct tape, needed to be push-started half the time, and were not particularly safe if God-forbid we got into an accident. We bought furniture at the second-hand store and vacations were spent camping, assuming we didn’t work through them to double collect on the paychecks for those weeks.

    On the other hand, in those days libraries were not de facto daycare centers (If you used your library for Internet or entertainment beyond reading as a young adult, Elaine, you must be a spring chicken), most families could scrape by on one income, and college was almost always paid as we went along because tuition rates were far lower than today, especially as they relate to minimum wage salaries. Having and raising a child before marriage was not unheard of, but was far from typical and greatly discouraged. HS pregnancies generally resulted in the girl paying a six month visit her faraway aunt. She came back without a child, but some relative, friend or church member coincidentally adopted a newborn concurrent with her return.

    I ain’t saying things are better or worse now. Change is a mixed bag. But life is entirely different today that it was 40 years ago when I was in my early twenties. Our kids live in a world that WE made possible for them. We rewrote social customs and now bemoan the results.

    My kids, thank God, are successfully out of the house, well employed, financially stable and in solid relationships. Yes, we worked hard to raise them, but there was also a certain amount of luck and “there but for the Grace of God, go I” at work. Most families are only a few health, legal or natural disaster crises from financial ruin.

    I wish Godspeed to those who are struggling to launch your adult children. Your road is a difficult one, and your sacrifices are many.

    by J-Dog — January 4, 2017

  15. I know several people who have this problem, and others whose children took until age 30 or more to grow up. This has made me very glad to have never had children. It seems like a crap shoot. Some are lucky, some not and doesn’t seem to have anything to do with whether or not you are good or bad parents.

    by Bob — January 4, 2017

  16. I feel for all these people described above both the parents retired or soon reaching retirement age but can’t because of their children’s situations and their feeling of obligation to assist or enable. We are fortunate. Both of our children did well in school, attended college and graduate school and went on to have jobs, paid every cent of their college loans, got good jobs and have lived independently. Neither has ever had to move back home. I believe with the current economy situation, the lack of steady job opportunities, the uncertainty of healthcare and needed government programs more and more people are going to be facing similar situations to above which will put serious wrinkles into their much deserved retirement. The future will be less rosey for most. We were just plain fortunate. We had steady reliable jobs, great benefits including guaranteed retirement programs. That is not there anymore. It looks like American will not become great again under the new regime. People will be supporting their kids financially forever from this point forward.

    by David Lane — January 4, 2017

  17. Children have changed over the years because companies marketing to children is big business. They will advertise things to the children as must haves like $150 sneakers, $800 cell phones and what have you. The kids don’t ask the parents for these things, they demand them! Advertising also makes the parents feel guilty that their kid would suffer if this item isn’t purchased. Working parents suffer guilt that they aren’t with the kid more hours of the day so they compensate with items they can’t afford. The kids are on overload and have everything known to man. They are used to having things given to them which makes some of them have no ambition to leave the nest.

    by Louise — January 5, 2017

  18. I really appreciate the stories shared here. My kids are on their own, but have mentioned situations in which they might want to move in with me for awhile (for ex., if they relocated to my area). It would be easy to welcome them “home,” until I consider the financial impacts. Several of their friends live at home while saving their wages for car payments, student loan payments etc. It is apparently viewed as being financially smart, instead of being a burden on the parents. However, it isn’t viewed as being cool to still live with parents when dating LOL!

    My problem is trying to control my tendency to want to make their lives easier financially. Car problems? Can I help? Can I help you buy a car? House shopping? Can I help with the down payment? Older coat? Let’s go shopping! Need to learn about investments? Can I make the initial DRIP investment for you? (We won’t mention Christmas, when the kids can’t refuse presents.) My kids are smarter than me, and keep telling me to save my money for retirement as I get closer to living on a fixed income instead of spendng it on them. I’m trying to change my pattern and stop making these offers, but it’s harder to stop being Mommy than I thought it would be. I can easily see how this behavior could deplete my retirement savings quickly.

    by Kate . — January 5, 2017

  19. Wow! There are many pathetic stories sprinkled within these comments. Bad parenting may times results in bad outcomes for offspring. My mother always told us when we got to 18 we either joined the military, went away to college or got a job and under any of those 3 scenarios no one would be allowed to live in her house and we knew she meant it and would not yield (now THAT is the definition of a strong woman). I joined the army national guard and went to college and my brother moved away to college. Neither of us ever went back as we didn’t wish to and weren’t allowed to even if we did desire to go back to our mother’s house. I am 46 and my brother 51 and we have always been totally self-sufficient. All of our bills are totally paid off with no debt so she was 2 for 2 on raising non deadbeat kids. Our father (i.e. the sperm donor) never paid child support after the 10 year marriage ended (I was 4 brother was 9) so it was tough on our mom working 2 jobs all those years but no she is retired and we give her money monthly to help supplement her meager SS check so I guess you could say my mother is the dead beat LOL. You saps need to grow a set and tell these leacherous bum kids to get the heck out of your homes right now.

    by dan — January 5, 2017

  20. Elaine, J- Dog ismcorrect. The economy for the past 8 years has been really bad here and we had very high unemployment and underemployment. Where I live, we still have a lack of decent full time jobs. It is not “enabling” a family member to help them out in an economy like this! We live in dire times where even people with advanced degrees are out of work. My parents grew up in the “great depression” and I heard those stories all of my life until they died. Families lived together, people with vast fortunes lost it all, people were on the streets. The economy here was and still remains very close to that. Our generation grew up in unusually successful times. The kids getting out of college now face a lack of decent jobs and high student loans. Again, we can’t judge based on a totally different time in history.

    by MaryNB — January 5, 2017

  21. As someone who had her children a little later in life, I have complete understanding of the scenarios above. My 26 year old has been out of the house since he was 21 and has a held a steady job since that time. For a variety of reasons, being a know-it-all teen, life choices etc., he didn’t go to college, but has since earned his associate’s degree with the help of the company he works for, and he is indebted to them for a while, as well as still paying off his portion of the loan he had to take out. The problem is that they don’t pay enough for him to live independently, and it is a dying industry, so his hours keep getting cut. This is a kid who dearly wants to succeed, but he’s still paying for the mistakes he made when he was 18 or 19. He cannot catch a break. For example, last fall he took a loan from his retirement account and got himself onto a workable budget where he could save a little, had a medical issue, ended up in the ER and out of work for a week and bam, his savings and his budget are both gone! It’s the story of his adult life. It’s been one step forward and three steps back. I’m still working, so have been able to help in out a little now and then, but it breaks my heart to see how thin he is, and the deep worry in his eyes whenever I see him. I am greatly concerned about his mental health at this point.
    His younger brother is still in college, and doing all right, but in this economy, that doesn’t mean his diploma is going to carry him out the door and into a job. His degree won’t be in the sought after scientific and computer fields, because that’s not how his brain is wired, and not his fault. So I worry about him too.
    With all that said, their step-father and I are planning to retire soon, and head south, and that’s still on schedule, but I would not be a good mother if I could walk away from my children who have needs without worry, and the desire to help.

    by Laurel — January 5, 2017

  22. Hey Y’all,
    Just wanted to let you know the post from ella above, is not from this ella. (Now living in Jonesborough after having moved in Sept. from NY.) Nothing wrong with the post, i am not trying to separate myself from it’s contents; just wanting to clarify. Hello second ella!

    by ella — January 5, 2017

  23. I do not agree that things are so much worse than they were 45 years or so ago. The economy was bad then too. Whe you finished college, you took whatever job you could get, none of this. “It’s not in my field” nonsense as an excuse.
    Then, there was a draft that clouded the future for young men.
    Perhaps the problem is that too many kids are going to expensive colleges and piling up huge debts to get degrees with poor job prospects.
    There are jobs out there that pay a decent wage, but require some training. Maybe would be poets and philosophers should learn how to weld so they can support themselves.

    by Sandie — January 5, 2017

  24. Sandie, I agree with you! My Hub is a licensed HVAC contractor and holds an S-1 license. He is retired but even before he retired, he got and still gets letters in the mail from companies all over CT wanting him to work for them. There must be a shortage of skilled tradesmen and they are willing to pay big bucks to hire them. Some kids should think about the Trades rather than college. They always seem to have work year round. I even know two women who worked at a company that trained them to become electricians and they are very well respected and do excellent work. My Brother In Law is a painter and does work in exclusive towns and never has to advertise. He is always busy. He also does very meticulous inside painting.

    The reason my Hub gets these letters is that employers search the State of CT license lists and can easily get names and addresses.

    by Louise — January 5, 2017

  25. Parents are not doing any adult child any favors not teaching them to survive in the world. Tough love is what it is called. Set some rules. I know some parent’s get raked over the coals for doing it, or the silent treatment, but the fact is, we had better opportunities, like on the job training and cheaper rent. Now you need an specific education if you can find a job. Still any job is better than no job. I feel for the parents of those that don’t get a job. Be thankful if they have a job. The economy is going to get a whole lot rougher I believe in the next two years, sit those adult children down, be honest and get a plan that benefits both of you.

    by DeyErmand — January 5, 2017

  26. I am experiencing the same problem. My son is 25, did something stupid which landed him in prison for 6 months. That’s how long it took me to get him out. Now he has bills , child support, dui to pay off. He use to help me with the bills and still helps me with the car bills but he is swamped in a mess with his court dates going on and on. I also have a daughter who is going to college and moved back home to finish her degree here. She helps when she can. I see the retirement issue because I want to retire in 4 years but I keep telling my adult kids that when I retire I’m selling this home and moving. This is a big house and everyone has their space. I tell them frequently that I will move probably to Montana where I can afford the mortgage on my other home. My kids don’t want to move out of the city so I am praying this is a solution. Glad I’m not alone out there. I live is San Bernardino , ca .

    by Angela — January 5, 2017

  27. DeyErmand, You are so right about sitting the adult children down to figure out a plan that benefits both, but some of these children should have had this stuff instilled/drilled into their heads as young children and grow up knowing the end result of an education was to get a job and move on to their own lives. Amazing some adult children have no clue that they are expected to get a job and make money. I can also see a mutual agreement allowing grown children to live there if the child chips in with expenses, chores and lawn work, etc. But the adult kids that play video games all night and sleep all day and expect 3 meals and a roof over their heads is just outrageous. You are also right about parents not doing the children any favors on how to survive in the world.

    by Louise — January 5, 2017

  28. I’m not embarrassed to admit that there were times in our twenties when each of my two siblings and I rebounded back to our parents’ house for a few months during various crises. Our folks were welcoming and supportive, but we were all clear that these were temporary situations. Living at home when 20-something (God forbid 30-something) was considered very uncool unless it was very short-term.

    Louise – I agree with you while also acknowledging that kids have been taught (by our generation) that trade jobs are less desirable than desk jobs. There’s a big status gap between lawyers, doctors, computer programmers and teachers versus plumbers, tool & die maker, and auto mechanics. It may not make sense, but the job caste system exists nevertheless. We demanded that our high schools become college prep machines and thus created a generation that almost exclusively expects to have careers in white collar fields.

    Angela and Laurel, my heart goes out to you. I hope all goes well with your children’s efforts to get on their feet.

    by J-Dog — January 5, 2017

  29. Some kids are just not wired for college but put a wrench in their hands and they can fix anything. Parents may push their kids towards college but might be doing a disservice and setting the kid up for failure if he/she is inclined to do Trade type work. There is a national shortage of Trade/Craft people in this country. The cost to send a kid to a Trade school is much less than college and some kids can go to vocational schools rather than traditional high school. Trades pay very well once the apprenticeship is finished. A lot of companies will take on apprentices. Some kids that go to vocational school spend part of their school day working with tradesmen in the trade they are interested in such as carpentry, electricity, plumbing. Once the kid is out of school, a lot of them have jobs already. Trade school may take two years to complete. Some companies pay licensed tradesmen $30-$40-$50 an hour or more and some less. Some even offer sign on bonuses. Not bad for a non college person compared to college grads who can’t find a job and working retail saddled with huge college debt. I also know a guy who was in the Navy and learned Controls there. At his job he helps build machines from scratch and programs them to do things in sequential order. He got a free education in the Navy and spent approx. 8 years there. There is a lot of opportunity out there: Nurses, dental hygienists, car mechanics, beauticians, HVAC, plumbing, carpentry, electrician, machinist, sheet metal, pharmacy technicians, painting, welding, underwater welding, graphic design, well drillers, Linemen for electric companies, septic installers and lots more. Some kids just don’t have any exposure to anyone in the trades and can’t relate to that kind of employment.

    by Louise — January 5, 2017

  30. Thanks TR for broaching this tenuous topic.
    We had no idea what we were experiencing with our adult children was so commonplace. We are left bewildered and sad. There have been so many in-lightning posts.
    I have reviewed all the posts and the links; doing much soul searching and discussion this week.
    It seems like there is such a fine line between graciousness and bootstrapping. Over indulgence seems to beget intitlement. Not indulging them gives them justification for rejection. An “off-the-cuff” comment can seem to cause emotional distance.
    We have been telling them for years, that we were planning to retire to TN, yet they act in-sensed and rejected, and believe that we should allow them deference regarding our financial decisions; what to sell in order to downsize etc.
    Another issue we’re dealing with is the health care law that requires us to allow them to remain under our policies until they turn 27. Due to the extreme premium increases and deductibles, this provision that we hadn’t budgeted for, is costing us (and many others I’m sure) thousands.
    My conclusion seems to be that we need to become more involved with our new community, and our own retirement futures, and pursuit of happiness.

    by Caps — January 6, 2017

  31. Caps, your adult children sound highly manipulative and abusive (and super-unloving) toward you and your husband.

    Have you seen a psychologist or other counselor about these apparently serious family problems?

    Nancy Reagan taught me: “Just Say No.” Try reading Melody Beatties’ great book, “Codependent No More.”

    (Are parents legally required to keep their kids on their medical policy until age 27…or are parents simply permitted to do so? Check with your medical insurer or other professional.)

    The Book of Genesis begins with the story of a tragically dysfunctional family, and the story of Cain and Able. The tragic stories don’t end there.

    Caps, “Just say Yes” to Tennessee?! “Never, Never Give Up!” (Winston Churchill).

    Best of luck!

    by Ann — January 7, 2017


    by Louise — January 7, 2017

  33. I have to disagree with the idea that the economy was just as bad as when we graduated from college. I graduated in 1974 and entry level jobs were plentiful here. Employers used to come to the college to recruit entry level employees. Nobody that I know had trouble finding a job. The economy here has been very, very bad here for the past 8 years. More home foreclosures than at any other time since the great depression. I know many people who list their jobs, their homes, and spent their retirement accounts just to survive. I also need to disagree with the assessment that this young generation is lazy. I have a 26 year old and I can tell you that the pressure put on these kids to succeed in school just wasn’t there when I was school. These kids studied hard, took AP courses, volunteered to do community service and did everything that they could to gain entrance into decent colleges, which have become much more competitive. I am very impressed with this generation. They are better educated and more creative, and have been hit with the worst economy since the great depression. These are our future doctors, lawyers, teachers, entrepreneurs, and creators of art and music. We need them to have job opportunities. Since when is going to a top college a bad thing for our country? These bright young adults sitting in basements are a result of policies that have forced companies to leave the USA, and have encouraged irresponsible behavior by giving benefits to them.It is a waste of human potential not to have the best and brightest employed, and in the long run will hurt our country. There are many ways to parent children and we are free to decide what is best for us. I, personally would never want to pack up and move away from my children. For me, family is happiness!

    by MaryNB — January 7, 2017

  34. Happiness to us is NOT having to endure another Mn winter!

    by Caps — January 7, 2017

  35. Caps, Just a thought here but… what if the whole family relocated to Tenn? Would it provide more job opportunities? My son moved there due to the jobs, and health insurance was cheaper there, around the Knoxville area. I don’t see how it would cost you any more than your situation now. It would put you in the state you wish to retire at least. I always suggest a person rents before they settle into an area permanently for retirement. Tell them, move with us or stay, we are going!

    by DeyErmand — January 7, 2017

  36. I am worried that in the next decade or two, the reverse movement will occur unless we retirees are very wealthy. With inevitable changes coming in Medicare and SS, sooner than we probably think, many seniors may be forced to beg for bedroom space from our children! Only the wealthy retirees ( as in our future Pres. and his cabinet) will be able to afford the high healthcare premiums, deductibles, and co-pays if one has any kind of illness or hospitalization. Just a simple surgery and hospital stay will drain our IRA’s and 401K’s, and anything serious will put us in deep debt! My husband an ad I have comfortable pensions and a healthy IRA to fall back on, but having cared for my 91 year old mom before her passing, I saw and wrote the checks for the hospital bills, rehab costs, and nursing care wages. Be nice to your kids, let them stay with you – it may be you looking to share a bunk in the near future!

    by SandyZ — January 8, 2017

  37. SandyZ, good point. Families have always helped each other. In my opinion, that is what families are for. The biggest change in our country has been the demise of the nuclear family. Government was never meant to solve all problems.

    by MaryNB — January 8, 2017

  38. I’ve been involved with a situation where a son had an addition problem. He was shipped off to a third world country, where he had the bare minimum to sustain himself, and his education paid for a period of 2 years of college. He was also left with the understanding, his return to the USA was dependent on how he did in school. He did well, and now has a wife and son, and a home of his own, and is ambitious!

    by Will — January 8, 2017

  39. As I read some of these posts it is upsetting to me that our children, and they will always be our children, no matter how old, are so easily labeled lazy, freeloaders, deadbeats etc. There can be various factors and mental health issues that can effect their ability to live independently, and young adulthood is when it will usually surface. We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, so rather than berate parents and critize parenting skills, let’s show some compassion and hope these families get the help they need. “There for but for the grace of God go I”.

    by Florence — January 8, 2017

  40. I have already took in my MIL in my home as she could not afford to eat after paying rent and co pays on medical. She is the victim of a man leaving his wife for a younger woman. Too much income to qualify for govt help, but not enough to survive with sharing spouse benefits with 2nd wife of one year. My sister took in my mother. Families have been taking in parents for years now. It could be me one day. Especially with Nursing homes taking everything they can leaving the children no inheritance. I helped my kids what I could, and can only hope they will help me one day if I need it.

    by DeyErmand — January 8, 2017

  41. Exactly Dey,
    This is our 3rd winter renting in East Tn. We absolutely love it here.
    5 adult kids and 5 grands in school etc.; They enjoy snowmobiling and ice fishing and really don’t mind those “wonderful ” winters. They were all raised there and enjoy their long time friends. Unemployment hasn’t been a problem, so there would be no compelling reason for them to join us. Their in-laws probably wouldn’t support a move either.
    We still own a lake cabin back in Mn, so we can visit whenever we choose to. We never could find a suitable one-level home here, yet we did buy a nice lot, and plan to build. Budgeting through a build is A bit of a challenge, due to so much uncertainty in pricing and options etc. Perhaps if there is interest, TR may start a new topic about that.

    by Caps — January 8, 2017

  42. Florence, I don’t think anyone here is talking about adult children with mental health problems. Mostly we are talking about perfectly healthy adult children who basically graduate high school and decide to ‘retire’ early at age 18. The ones that have no ambition to get a job or go to any higher education. The ones that sleep all day and play video games all night. The ones that won’t offer to shovel, do laundry or any household chores. The ones that party with their friends at night and do drugs. The ones that think it is perfectly okay to see their parents go off to work to support them. The parents who gripe about it but won’t lay down any rules. Situations like this never end up good. Instead of allowing this behavior to go on, parents need to put their big boy pants on and sit down with these do nothing kids and get them on the path to productivity. If the parent determines it is more than lack of ambition, maybe it is a mental health problem and time to get some professional help. Time goes fast and the next thing you know you have a 32 year old kid still playing video games in the basement. I would encourage the kid to get a job anywhere doing just about anything. Even if they have a college degree, work at a fast food restaurant. When you are working, opportunities tend to pop up and you can move on to other things. It’s called baby steps. A kid with no experience doing anything can’t expect a great job from day one. With experience, better jobs happen. College kids should try to get internships in the profession they want to work in. They get excellent experience, learn work ethics and might even get hired permanent. However, the kids future should have been discussed throughout their growing up years and not be a big surprise at age 18 that they have to go to work or to school.

    On another note, if some kids cannot afford to go to college, there are some companies that offer assistance. Walmart and Starbucks come to mind. I know a woman who works at Walmart and they helped pay for her college education.

    by Louise — January 9, 2017

  43. Caps, yes I am interested and looking into building a retirement home. The cost of building vs the cost of buying would be a good article.

    by DeyErmand — January 9, 2017

  44. Louise
    What you describe is typical behavior of many young adults with mental health issues. Anxiety and depression leave many unable to complete activities that seem so easy for others. The mere thought of even applying for a job is debilitating. Self medicating using drugs and alcohol is common as well.
    These families need counseling. Tough love works in some cases but in others it can be a push over the edge. It’s up to the families themselves to decide the best course of action no matter what that may be. But telling parents to put on their “big boy pants” and how to parent is, imho, ill advised.

    by Florence — January 9, 2017

  45. I disagree. Not all kids have mental health issues. Yes, there are kids with issues but those are NOT the kids we are talking about.

    by Louise — January 9, 2017

  46. I agree with Florence. My now ex-husband has a son from a previous marriage who is brilliant! He maintained a 4.0 in a private high school, however, when he went to college he never completed his education as he would go into a deep depression mid-term and simply not go to class and stay in his dorm for days on end. Since he never attended classes he flunked out. His record was restored when the college officials realized that he had mental illness. He moved back home and continued to play computer games all day long in the basement and wear clothes until they reeked. He was placed in counselling and then attempted two more times to go back to college with the same results. My husband was a physician and was advised not to push his son too hard. It was difficult as my husband is an MD /Ph.D and a high achiever. His son never did finish college, but became a realtor and also was highly regarded in the world of computer games where he was instrumental in creating some of the games and was well paid. Eventually he moved into a condo–which my husband initially purchased for him and then his son took over the payments when he reached a place of stability. It is a slippery slope to push children who suffer from depression and mental illness, but it is not easy on the families involved.

    by Jennifer — January 10, 2017

  47. Let’s just hope that the economy improves and that good jobs become more plentiful. Louise, I can honestly say that I don’t know any young people as you describe. The young people that I know are very well educated and looking for good opportunities.

    by MaryNB — January 10, 2017

  48. Here is an article that is quite eye opening. Be sure to read the comments at the end of the article too.

    by Louise — January 10, 2017

  49. I think a point Florence was trying to make is that it’s not appropriate to give that type of advice on a retirement web site.

    by Staci — January 10, 2017

  50. So, the question still remains, however:
    What is the fine line between generosity and tough love?

    by Caps — January 10, 2017

  51. Unfortunately, I do know multiple kids who match the examples that Louise gave (as I’ve mentioned, my kids are in their 20s-30, and have a lot of friends who I get to observe. We lived in a town where 90%+ were pushed to college from the public schools, instead of trade schools, the military etc. My kids’ friends are well educated, but that doesn’t really mean much anymore for students who got basic liberal arts degrees. A kid who graduated from a good college with a business degree two years’ ago is selling phone contracts. Two others manage a drug store and a shift at McDonalds. Two work as bartenders (one plays in a band, and the other does film stuff in his free time). Two with teaching degrees work at a day-care center earning marginal wages, and as a substitute teacher with a supplemental job as a clerk in her favorite store to get a store discount. One grad went to the police academy last year, but then decided that the job would be too stressful. ALL of these kids in their 20s-30 are still living at home, since they don’t make enough money to move out yet. From what I’ve seen, they’re still acting like kids too. The families seem stuck in patterns where the parents support the kids, and the kids work for pocket money. And every year there’s a new crop of graduates, and my kids’ friends are a year older. Still, they would never consider going to a trade school, applying to the UPS to be a mailman, or enlisting, since that would be “beneath” them. They view their current situations as temporary, but aren’t doing anything to change it. There’s a whole generation of these kids out there…but there’s definitely going to be a huge impact on their parents’ retirement if the pattern doesn’t change.

    On the positive side, there are some kids who are starting careers (thank heavens – including mine). They chose majors wisely, such as engineering, health care or accounting. They did internships in college that led them to job openings. Their family network helped them to find entry level jobs. They went into the military and learned trades. They went to grad school to pursue degrees with job openings. I work with a lady who got her kid an entry level job at a construction site. The kid hated it but was given an ultimatum that the kid had to start working or the lady would stop paying for the kid’s car. Now the kid loves the job, is doing well and will have a career in that field. And yes, that kid has moved out! I guess the point is that every single situation is going to be a little different, and there’s a lot of hope for the parents whose kids are struggling that they’re just having a slow start on building their 35 years of social security credits or other financial security for their own retirements in the future.

    by Kate . — January 11, 2017

  52. This article discuses alternatives to college or going part time. Very good ideas for kids not interested in attending college.

    One thing not mentioned on the list is EMT. No college education needed to take classes.

    Another idea is in my town we have a culinary school. It is a 12 week school that teaches the basics of working in a kitchen. The school prepares the student in the food service industry such as diners, hospital, restaurants, catering, personal cook and much more. The curriculum covers all facets of work in a professional kitchen and taught by a professional chef. The students also do an internship while going to school. Once they graduate, they are ready to work or may have a job from the internship.

    Some kids are just not ready for college or just not geared for it. Maybe parents could discuss alternatives rather than have high expectations of college.

    by Louise — January 11, 2017

  53. Young people are being told that SS will NOT be available for them, so they aren’t too concerned about their work history.

    by Caps — January 11, 2017

  54. I remember well the conversation my parents had with me when my husband dumped me off with 2 children and one on the way in their driveway. I wanted to be a stay at home wife and mother like my own mom. I became a LPN in one year. They held my hand until I could handle things again in 2 years. The only money I borrowed from them was divorce money which I paid back. I did their laundry, mowed the lawn, bought my own groceries, and kept the house clean. Mom watched my children while I went to Trade school. They enabled me with tools to handle life.From my own experience, I didn’t know what I was good at, or how to get a job. My parents built me up. They didn’t treat me like a failure, and I didn’t act like an ingrate. I am thankful. My children did not have what most children had, but they did go to trade school. And like my parents if my child falls, I will help them get back up. In this economy my children can not afford to buy a home. I seen two of them lose their jobs, and all 3 (with their families) had to moved back home. It was not as simple as daddy’s words “My house, my rules.” but I think it was the curfew and lights out rule that got them on their feet faster than any of my “suggestions”. I have a friend who disconnected the cable/internet from her house, telling her adult children since she was buying so much more groceries she could no longer afford it. They moved out to their dad’s and rarely come around her now. But like she said their social life was the internet, and they barely talked to her when they lived with her. They didn’t want her “suggestions”, told her she didn’t understand. She still is paying off their college degrees as she mortgage her house to give them the best education. She went to counseling but the adult children wouldn’t come in on the sessions. Enabling a child by paying for their lifestyle is not teaching them to be responsible. They will move on when the “entitlements” ( your savings) run out, and forget you exist, I have worked 30 years in a Nursing home, and I have seen and heard enough to be prepared,

    by DD — January 11, 2017

  55. DD you are a success story and your parents were excellent role models to help build you up when you were in a dark place. You also are a good role model to your children. Cheer to you and your future!

    by Louise — January 11, 2017

  56. Thx Louise, I almost didn’t post. My parents were strict raising the four of us, and it was demeaning enough to have to move back home. I don’t know what I would of done had my parents called me some of the names I have read on here, or not give me a hand up. I do think internet has replaced families sitting down and sharing with each other. Yet it is a way to help a child find a job. I think you have provided some excellent reading material to help others, if they want to take the time.

    by DD — January 11, 2017

  57. DD, thanks for the good words. Glad to read your post and the positive outcome. There are many situations where kids come back home and it is even a bigger struggle on the adult kid with children and the parents dealing with a full household. Your parents took charge of the situation and pointed you in the right direction. This is what parents need to do. They could have allowed you to stay home for years and years and given you money and supported you. But in the end, you would still be dependent on them for support. You would have been even older and without any work skills or hopes of getting a job. Your parents guided you correctly.

    by Louise — January 11, 2017

  58. Generosity is something you can afford to do without regrets, and tough love is an option when children can’t /won’t help themselves be all they can be. That’s when you have to seek out some help from another source. I would say the thin line is when you start having regrets.

    by DeyErmand — January 11, 2017

  59. Adult children financial support:

    by Louise — January 11, 2017

  60. There’s a surprisingly harsh undertone in some places being expressed here regarding adult children – mostly other people’s.

    When our kids ask for a favor we lend a hand in whatever ways we can. When we call them for the same, they likewise show up ready to pitch in. Based on observation of friends and acquaintances, it appears our experience is the rule rather than the exception.

    Kindness is not always mistaken for weakness. When the chips are down and human are struggling, family is where nearly all of us turn first and last. Over the course of a lifetime will I help my children more than they help me? I can only pray that it will be thus.

    by J-Dog — January 12, 2017

  61. J-Dog, thank you for your wonderful sentiments…..My husband and I both are caregivers to my 89 yr old mother who has dementia. She begged me to move in with her. She prefers being in her home than being placed in a nursing home. I don’t have children of my own so I won’t have the pleasure of being taken care of by my children. So if you do have loving children you are blessed.

    by areti11 — January 13, 2017

  62. Very well-said, J Dog. Financial security is obviously important, but the sentiments you identified are vital to families too. Ultimately, I think each family has its own unique circumstances. Each family has to consider whether helping is the right thing to do, or if it is only enabling someone to defer accepting responsiblity for themselves. Articles like this one only address retirement finances. Thanks for reminding us that it’s not just about money.

    by Kate . — January 13, 2017

  63. I agree with you J-Dog. With such high divorce rates, I fear our society is becoming anti- family. Families help each other.

    by MaryNB — January 13, 2017

  64. “A roof over your head, a car in the garage, clothes on your back, food in your belly and the love of your family, what more could a man ask for” My dad’s words on life. He drew the line at touching his retirement savings to help any of his kids out. If it was in his budget, he would help. He was one to buy us things he thought we needed. If you moved back home, he collected your paycheck and gave you $40 for gas and lunches. The rest was saved. If you didn’t have a job, he found you one! He retired to Florida, just like his father had. Today, there are cell phones, and internet which you need for most job applications and a contact number. And you need a car and car insurance. Top that off with health insurance premiums and any student loans that need paid, I understand why so many have moved back home. Mine had trouble finding affordable rental places after college but I helped them save. Now they worry about having enough money saved for retirement because they don’t believe SS benefits will be there for them. I done used some of my retirement to pay for two years college for each of them. I can’t afford to do that again for any reason. I don’t want to be a burden for my children with the future they face.

    by DeyErmand — January 13, 2017

  65. Jennifer
    I’m glad things worked out so well for your family. It can be tough to know when to push and when to stand back. Having a career is a lot more than just making money. Young people choose a career path that is of interest to them, whatever that may be. It is a shame that in our present economy “entry level jobs” are now unpaid internships. I was fortunate to have a job I loved and never worked a day in my life. When put in a new position I literally hated, I retired!! Jennifer, your stepson is fortunate to have such a supportive family. It’s hard to know what path we have to take as parents especially when retirement savings are involved.

    by Florence — January 13, 2017

  66. Jobs that pay well with no college or two years of college:

    by Louise — January 17, 2017

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