DEAR AMY: I have my two kids living at home with my husband and me. Our son is 25; our daughter is 23. Both are college grads with good jobs. They make more money than I do. I work and also do all the laundry and cooking. I don't mind having them home because I understand it is tough out there for young people. I have been charging them each $100 a month for rent, including food, utilities, laundry services, and health insurance. My daughter has no problem with this arrangement and she is very helpful around the house when I ask. My son, on the other hand, is not helpful at all and told me, "I'm not getting my money's worth for my $100." On top of that, he has on numerous occasions called me derogatory names. I know I am a sap, but I am now at the breaking point. He has a totally different personality with people outside our home, so no one but my husband and daughter truly know what he is like. I don't want to be treated like this anymore. Honestly, if my husband treated me the way my son does, my marriage would not have lasted 28 years. I need to fix this. But how?
DEAR USED: You need to let your kids experience the world outside of your enabling embrace.
Where I live, a room in a private home with shared bath and kitchen privileges can be rented for around $350/month. (No one other than a mom is generous enough to include cooking, cleaning and laundry services.) You can check your newspaper's classifieds section or Craigslist.com to see what the range is in your area.
I suggest you begin the new year with a dose of reality. Tell your children that, starting in February, the rent for each will rise by $50 every month until it is capped at $350 each. If they don't like it, tell them they have a month to find other housing. Give your son a roll of quarters and a box of laundry soap as a going-away present.