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Is it OK to charge my adult children rent as a means of teaching responsibility?

Young adults now live at home longer, requiring discernment on living well together under one roof. Parents can be frustrated with their adult children’s struggles, knowing the responsibilities they already carried at that age. Yet the opportunities for young adults have changed. They face a grim financial reality and often struggle to find work that allows them to live independently.

While Scripture does not spell out how parents should manage life with young adults under their roof, there are guiding principles. Treat others as you wish to be treated. In all interactions, be honest, loving, fair, and direct. Parents are not to exasperate their children (Eph. 6:4). When we have concerns we are to come together and address them (Matt. 18:15-20). For younger children, home should be a safe place where they gain skills for independence. Children should be on a trajectory to leave their parents while also experiencing their home as a place of cultivating love. As children develop into adults, the parent’s role changes from decision maker to advising coach.

Parents should negotiate graciously with adult kids living at home, laying out clear expectations and fostering ownership of responsibilities. Establish clear expectations for life together, such as schooling, employment, church, household chores, and caring for their living space. Negotiate what expenses your child can reasonably manage with their income, including phone, car insurance, and health expenses, so they are learning to carry their load (Gal. 6:5). Parents may choose to collect rent to help their kids acclimate to independent living. Rent should not be punitive; be careful the money doesn’t disrupt a loving, connected relationship. When love leads, charging rent might be a blessing that sets a child up for success. Parents might set aside all or some of the rent money to bless their child with later. Be prayerful to discern the best course for your child in this season.

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