Agree on what is included — and what’s not. Define how much you can afford or are willing to provide. Is your kid going to pay for rent, utilities or groceries? If so, what amount and when? If housing is free, do you expect him to cover gas, movie tickets and other discretionary expenses? What about mowing the lawn, doing his laundry or making his own dinner? Will you expect him to go on job interviews or work at a part-time job while seeking full-time employment? Try to be as specific as possible to take the guesswork out of the equation, and to have a conversation to go back to if your child gets off track.
Hey imaginary kid! You asked me if you could move home after graduating from college, and stay in your old room while you hunt for a full-time job, and save up some money, and yes, of course I’m going to give you that option! I mean, it’s the year 2041, and we’ve successfully financed your college education even though tuition is now $1.4 million a year.
Imaginary kid, I’m not going to make you pay rent—for the first three months! If you’re planning on being here any longer than that, I’ll want you to pay me a little something not because I need the money, but because I want you to start showing me that you’re indeed the smart, financially responsible adult that I raised you to be. You won’t know this, but I am going to take that rent money you pay me, and hide it away in a savings account in your name. And one day when you’re older and ready to buy a house, or get married, or quit your job to start your own business, I’m going to give all that money back to you. You’re going to say, “But, Dad, I can’t accept this!” And I’m going to say, “No, darling, this is your money. I was just holding on to it for a while.”
Do I expect you to cover your own gas, movie tickets, and discretionary income? Heck, yes! If you’re going to see Harry Potter 15: Voldemort’s Secret Lovechild in 4D, you better pay for it yourself! But I’ll admit to you that I was just excited as you when J.K. Rowling said, “J/K! I’m writing a bunch more Potter books.”
I won’t make you mow the lawn, because grass doesn’t exist anymore, but I will make you turn on the Roomba to clear the aluminum driveway of all that space dust that’s been trickling in from the sky.
Good luck with the job search, imaginary kid. Remember that you can do much better work than any android can.