Q: My 29 year-old daughter has come home...I want to help but … am not sure how to ask her to help out more financially...
A: In this article we will consider the dilemma of what is reasonable to ask of grown children that return. There is a point where parental support can be abused and to continue providing unconditional support for a child amounts to enabling them. Some important questions to consider would be: How long has it been since the child separated from their spouse, how nasty or emotionally damaging was the divorce, and what efforts is the child making to deal with their emotional problems? First, your child will probably need a good amount of support when going through the process of divorce. This does not mean that you have to provide all of it though. There are good therapists, government agencies, and community resources she can also use. It is very appropriate to encourage her to use these resources and always appropriate to politely ask her what her plans are to deal with her problems. However, in the middle of the divorce she may be too emotional and overwhelmed to know.
If it has been at least 3 months since the divorce and the ex-husband is properly contained by the law, it is time she should start putting her life back together. If you want her to help financially, talk with her about getting a job. Although she may want to stay home with the kids, that option may be temporary lost with the divorce. It is reasonable that she make steps to become self-reliant and care for herself and her children at this time. You can discuss what you would like her to do to help around the house. Let her know that it is not reasonable for her to throw babysitting and disciplining of her kids on you. If six months have past and she has done little or nothing to help herself and has made no apparent attempts at self-reliance, you're moving into negative enabling. You should consider setting a contract of what specific things you expect from her in what specific time frame. You will need to attach specific consequences such as loss of access to money, your car, or even her chance to live with you for the contract to be effective. In summary, the guiding question to ask yourself is: Given that reasonable time has past for her to begin to deal with the pain and problems of the divorce, is she making realistic steps toward self-reliance and to help her self? Good luck till next week.