When Your Child Becomes Your Tenant…


Opinions abound on this subject and I’d like to hear your views. Many of you are mothers and perhaps have children who have graduated high school. I have a 19-year-old son Dylan. Believe me, I’ve gotten all kinds of advice but I find it intriguing how varied the views are on this topic.

Of course as a parent I want Dylan to learn how to be responsible which is why my husband and I told him after he graduated high school he had to do two things: go to college and get a job. He’s done both. Now he’s saving for a car and his father has said he’ll help him buy one, perhaps matching dollar-for-dollar what Dylan saves.

People have told me we should at least charge him a hundred dollars or so for room and board and perhaps make him do his own wash and cooking and take the bus wherever he wants to go, i.e. no more dependence on me.

I have a hard time suddenly classifying my son as a “tenant”, i.e. that I should charge him rent to live in his own home just because he no longer attends high school.

What do you all think about this?


Posted on June 7, 2013, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. I’m with you, Patti. We’ve always said that as long as the boys were going to school or working full time, we wouldn’t charge them rent. However, they’ve been washing their own clothes since they were teens. Something to do with their mom shrinking their shirt sleeves and coloring their white socks pink. I don’t know who would do that to them? πŸ™‚ And they’re better cooks than I am, so they’ve always taken their turn in the kitchen. And cleaning toilets and ironing and mowing the lawn … I think they once called themselves our slaves, but at least they’re capable of taking care of themselves. Some woman is going to be so very lucky to have them one day. I just hope she knows it. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks for chiming in here, Sheila. My son knows how to cook really well but sometimes asks for my help. Being a vegetarian I really don’t feel like frying his bacon! My daughter is the one who earns allowance from cleaning toilets and such, so I’ve got that covered. Dylan takes care of the garbage and bins.

  2. I can understand people tell you that if your sons like 40 years old and yeah I think he should pay rent. But at 19 years old he still gonna need your guidance and support while he’s going to college. you all of a sudden we make your child feel like an outsider cause they graduated is all wrong

    • Needless to say, Lea, I agree with you. I think he’s doing everything he can right now given his maturity level so I’m happy about that. I don’t want to “force” him out which is what many people are suggesting I do. I just can’t.

  3. Christy Hayes

    This is a tough call, especially because I’m not there yet. I think you could tell by your son’s attitude whether he considers living with you a stop gap measure or the sweetest deal going. I’d adjust my rules accordingly. Good luck. He’s a cutie πŸ™‚

    • Thanks for your take on this, Christy. I believe that, given his maturity level right now, he’s doing exactly what we wanted him to do and I’m seeing progress little by little as the months go by.

  4. We told our kids the rent is free as long as they are in school. Of course, they still have to contribute to the everyday workings of the household, do their own laundry, clean their own room, clean up after dinner, etc. They’ve been doing this since they were young, so it isn’t really a change. My son is responsible for paying his own car insurance, maintenance, gas, etc. The car he drives is still “mine” though.

    Now, if your son was in his late twenties and needed a little encouragement to get his life in order, that’s a different story, but it doesn’t sound like you are there yet. If you’re worried, set a time frame, say twenty-two or twenty-three, so he has a definitive idea of when he’ll be responsible for his own livelihood. Bottom line, there are no hard and fast rules for parenting; every child and every situation is different. Don’t let the opinions of others guide yours!

    • Tracy, I want to say a very special “thank you” for your comment. It really hit home for me, i.e. there ARE no hard and fast rules for parenting and every child and every situation is different. I’m NOT going to let the opinions of others guide my children or my life. THAT’S what I needed to hear, I guess, and thank YOU for saying so.

  5. Vicki Batman

    I didn’t charge rent. As long as he worked and went to school in his five years, we covered his schooling, not incidentals, not gas. We bought a good used Jeep Cherokee and when mine graduated, they got this as their gift.

    Almost two years ago, we let #1 son move into our garage apartment and charged minimal rent. Job situation was very hard an we wanted him to save. He had a rude awakening when he had appendicitis and had to cover the part of the insurance his did not. (long story) He helped around the house a lot. Now, he and his fiancΓ© bought a house with their savings. We are thrilled.

    • What you decided to do makes perfect sense to me. In this economy, to kick your kids out and expect them to “do it all” is pretty silly, in my opinion. They could never afford 4-years of college tuition and room and board and a car and gas and everything else. And what I find interesting is that other cultures think nothing of having their children stay home past the age of 18. But in the U.S. it’s almost frowned upon.

  6. I’m the wrong person to ask. I have an unrelated 27 year-old man living rent-free in my house and he doesn’t even have a high school diploma. However, my young children love him and call him brother and he is a talented musician whose own parents kicked him out at age 15 (because he is queer). I don’t mind letting him do his thing in our family while he figures out what to do on his own.

    If he was my actual kid, I might make him either get a job OR go to school, just because it would build up his sense of confidence and self-esteem. I have suggested those things to my “housemate” but I’m not his mom, so it isn’t on me to build his character.

    He has pretty good character anyway, though…

    • I think you did an honorable deed taking him in because his parents kicked him out due to his sexual orientation. He sounds like a member of your family and fits in well. I’m sure he’ll find his way into the future.

  7. By the way, my housemate pulls his weight on chores and often babysits or just hangs out with the kids making music with them, etc.

  8. I could see charging rent if he were a slacker and needed to learn responsibility. But since he’s in school and working, he’s doing a lot already and is being responsible. If you were to charge him rent, etc. it could put a damper on his education as he worked more hours to make more money. I just don’t see doing that, myself. Kids who are doing what they should be doing at his age should be commended in my opinion. I’d definitely make him do his own laundry though. πŸ˜‰

  9. Patti – Some great comments above. Parenting has changed so much over the years. We are now seeing new homes being built that accommodate multigenerational families. The so called rules of yesteryear no longer apply in today’s world. It sounds to me that you are right where you need to be with supporting your son and his life goals.

    • Parenting HAS changed over the years, Sheri. I remember my parents were never involved in my school and teachers and such. These days parents are all over the place on school campuses and we go to parent/teacher meetings, etc. which was unheard of at my grammar and high schools.

  10. Chiming in late, Patti … Like Sheri D. I come from a different generation. In our family, it wasn’t considered “rent” … like chores … it was considered a responsibility. You helpled out not because the folks “needed” the money, but because it was the right thing to do. Sure rules of parenting have changed. I personlly spoiled my Gen-X kids … but there should be a balance between what some think is a “free ride” and what common sense tells us is learning how to contribute to whatever household we live in.

    And spoiled or not, my kids were doing their own laundry in high school. His wife will thank you for teaching him at least the basics of how to survive without mommy πŸ™‚

    • I definitely see a difference in the answers from different generations. Thanks for chiming in, Florence. We’re all raised so differently and I believe that highly influences what we choose to do with our kids no matter what age.

  11. Boy I couldn’t wait to get out of the house! I was 17 when I moved out! I don’t know that I agree with that as along as he’s still in school don’t charge rent. If he’s got a job, charge him $50/month, and then put that money into another account for him and when he moves out, given him that money to get started, buy furniture, a car, a down payment on a condo. My brother went to school for a very long time and lived at home with my parents paying all his expenses including tuition. He’d take a course every year usually in something that got no credits like badminton. I remember coming over to visit and my mother would be washing dishes and he’s be sitting on his ass watching TV. I told my mother he should be doing the housework to which she always responded “oh he’s a student.” Talk about an enabler! In fact one time I came over and she was sitting at the table doing his homework for him! In 1998, following a stroke, my mother went to a full care facility where she passed in 2005. Around 2000 in an attempt to get rid of my brother (38 years old then) to move out my father put the house up for sale and purchased a condo big enough only for himself. That was the only way he could get rid of him but I think he paid for my brother’s apartment rental at least for a time, because after all he “was a student”. He finally did get his BA about 3 or 4 years ago so I think he milked that “student” thing for as long as he could so he didn’t have to pay rent, do housework, etc. And yes he is one of the laziest, spoiled rotten, full of sense of entitlement persons I’ve ever known. That’s the way he was raised though.

    • Well, Cheryl, I’ve heard of situations like your brother’s and I know what you mean by the “enabling”. On the one hand, if you parents didn’t mind then there’s nothing to complain about, but if they didn’t want him there, then yes they should have done something about it.

  12. Well, I always believe in being there for my kids and will always help them during transitions times. My daughter has a year contract to work for Americorp living clear across the country (and paying rent to someone else). She’ll return home next Feb. for six months then head to grad school…and she can plant her butt right back in her room in between. The only time I’d charge rent, though, is if she were working full-time and living here. I’d do it so she understands how to budget. On the sly, I’d probably bank the money and hand it back to her after the lesson is learned.

  13. Donna Coe-Velleman

    Does he pay for his college, at least part of? Will he pay for his car insurance? If he has other expenses like I mentioned then it would be hard to ask for rent. There’s just so far the money from that job will go and you want him to concentrate on his grades.


    • Thanks for the comment, Donna. He has a scholarship for his tuition and the money from his job is for his clothes and some food and savings for a car. So, charging rent would be kind of silly right now.

  14. Janna Qualman

    I think as with anything related to our kids, it’s the balance between teaching responsibility and being a help and support as best we can. It sounds like you’re doing it just right! It’s hard to imagine for sure, because my kids are so young comparatively, but I don’t think I’d want to cross the line from parent to landlord. Why make it a business transaction? Not this soon, it’s not like he’s been mooching well into his twenties, and it says a lot that he’s already taken on some fair and sturdy responsibilities.

    • You’ve made me feel really good, Janna, because I agree fully with your opinion. As I told my husband – he’s doing everything we wanted him to do so leave him alone right now and we’ll see what happens.

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