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Pastor_Owen's picture

Pastor_Owen

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Should parents charge their child Room and Board?

My wife and I have four children - age 16-21 years. The oldest is our son, who is the 21 year old. While he was away in college/university, we did not charge room and board. (He boarded at home.) We felt that we should support him, since he was paying for his own education. The oldest child has now completed his program/degree, and is still living at home with us. He has a full-time job, and it seems that he has more funds than we do. I have returned to full time study (for the past 3 years studying theology) and my wife works part-time. Our funds are rather limited, and it has been tight. My wife and I have been discussing charging room and board, since it seems that our son spends his money on whatever he desires. Should we charge him room and board? Yes or no? What is a fair rate, if yes? Any input would be appreciated.

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MikePaterson's picture

MikePaterson

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How do kids grow up, then, not experienced the reality that spending is always about priorities and that laying on a good time is immediately reflected in economies like simple meals and re-adjusted thermostats for a week or so. If they are making good money, why would they not participate in the whole family economy as in the past, or make their own decision to move elsewhere? On reflection, i think it was maybe a help in our daughter's case that we lived without electricity for four years while she was growing up and the connections between solurce and supply were very, very clear. A hot shower meant chiopping wood, hand-pumping a header-tank... etc, etc. There weren't short cuts that obscure the limitations of money.

Maybe there is a force in consumerism that drives people to hide material realities from growing children: to encourage them to think their parents are a bottomless resource, infinite providers: I have wondering sometimes whenm seeing kids half squeezed out of their bedrooms by enormous piles of costly toys and goodies that seem unappreciated. In "normal" and "poor" households, these options don't exist,. But t'd be foolish to see poverty as a virtue, or to expect that the family that struggles together stays together.

Sorry... just pondering... blethering...

Jimbo59's picture

Jimbo59

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Our daughter went to university for a year, then ended up ill and suspending her studies. She has been living at home and working full-time while she resolves her issues and she has been paying room and board since she started working. It is all part of her learning to be an independent/interdependent adult and developing confidence in her abilities to provide for herself and others.
I believe parents who do not charge room and board to adult working children are depriving them of the opportunity to become fully mature adults.

lainey's picture

lainey

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One suggestion - now that your son will be contributing financially to the running of the household, include him in the family budget discussions. Show him how much money is being spent on food, utilities, mortgage, insurance, car payments, renovations, tuition, everything, and let him see just how far his $35 is going. Don't hide how tight things are getting. If you haven't agreed on a timeline for raising the rent, hopefully he will offer to contribute more. Encourage him to create his own personal budget, allowing for savings for the wedding, down payment, furnishings, rainy day funds, RRSPs, etc.... Encourage his fiancee to participate in this as well.

Think about it as a very, very valuable wedding gift that won't cost you a cent, but may just prevent some major problems in the future.

Pastor_Owen's picture

Pastor_Owen

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Lainey,
Thanks for the insight. Yes, we have discussed these issues about finances with our children openly over the past three-plus years. We had a family meeting when I entered into seminary three years ago, and told the children that things were going to change. We also continued with the "Turn off the lights when you leave a room!" We did not have the money to continue in the life that we had enjoyed when I was working full time. For the most part, all the kids understood. The other day I told my son to make a budget of expenses if he were to live on his own (rent, utilities, food, car insurance, taxes, etc.) and he realized that $35 was not out of the question. (By the way, he pays his own car insurance.) I then went through our expenses and divided it by 6 (number in the family) and we arrived at a number that was much higher than $35.00/wk. I'm not looking for him to pay his full "share," but rather am trying to open his eyes to the fact that one day he will be the one who will be paying 100% of the expenses for his family, and he better get used to paying for "life expenses" rather than thinking that all his income is able to be used on his toys.

full_of_wonder's picture

full_of_wonder

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I'm a long time lurker, but this is my first post. After our kids graduate from high school, we charge room and board if they aren't going to school, even if they are "saving" for school. We taught all to do their own laundry around age 13 or 14 and everyone does their own. It usually works out and I don't feel like a maid. We charge $50/wk. It isn't a huge amount, but it helps with groceries (and believe me our grocery bill is noticably higher when our 20 year old son is living at home!) and at least they feel that they are contributing and not a burden to us.

We look in amazement at other families we know who allow their 20 somethings who aren't in school to llive at home for free. There is little incentive to ever move out if everything is done for them at home.

carolla's picture

carolla

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Welcome full of wonder! Glad you finally jumped in & Ihope we'll hear more from you.

Aurora's picture

Aurora

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We did not charge our kids room and board. They moved out immediately after high school so it was never an issue. It was a different time with the cost of living much lower.

Times are a little harder now. I think that is why kids are moving back home. Parents spoil their kids a little more now too. My kids wore hand me downs from each other and from their cousins. They were not used to getting everything so did not need it when they moved out either. So, it is probably a little of both. Being spoiled and minimum wage does not pay rent, utilities, food, student loans, and credit card debt.

MikePaterson's picture

MikePaterson

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Families should provide a liberating and necessary haven from the pressures, expectations and materialistic crap of the cash-based society.

My experiences "” growing up, having my aging dad live with us for a time when he wanted to, and in our home now, with a daughter and grand daughter with us "” that, far from contributing to attitudes of selfishness, greed and opportunism, free sharing of family resources has always promoted responsibility and generosity, thoughtfulness and an awareness that resources are limited and you have to work to survive. You draw on family when you need to and contribute when you can and there's no judgement.

It is a strange and foreign idea to me that somehow allowing your children to live at home when they need or want to (for whatever reasons) might make them more rather than less self-centred. They are accepting your love; they reciprocate... don't they? You become one economic unit, one social unit, one emotional unit.

My experience makes me think that charging kids board ast any stage of theitr lives simply risks eroding the core of what a family is about. Everyone, in that situation, faces far greater chances of laughing, crying and dying alone. That to me is tragic. Loneliness is worse than sharing a bit of material deprivation with your kids. And, for young people, loneliness can lead to all kinds of wrong, self-destructive decisions. For a few dollars a week, it's not worth it.

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