You're Not Stunting Her

Molly says her sister moved in with her and isn't paying any utilities or rent. She is 19 and attending a community college. Is it time to push her out of the nest and allow her to start living as an adult?

QUESTION: Molly in Atlanta says her sister moved in with her, and she isn’t paying any utilities or rent. She is 19 and attending a community college. Molly wants to know if it’s time to push her out of the nest and allow her to start living as an adult. Dave doesn’t think she’s enabling bad behavior and soothes Molly’s concerns.

ANSWER: The way you’re describing her is very positive. This is a kid you want to help. She’s doing all the right things. She’s working. She’s looking at school. I don’t think you’ve got a party-animal drug addict in your house.

In a sense, you’re acting as surrogate parents. If it was my child, would I let my child live in my house and save money without paying rent while they’re doing good things toward their future like getting out of debt and going to college and saving money and those kinds of things? Yes, I would. Then the question becomes how much of that role you want to play. In other words, I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong. I don’t think you’re enabling bad behavior. You’re enabling and lifting good behavior. This is a very young person to be thrown out in the streets of Atlanta. If it’s not causing too much disruption to your marriage or your parenting or your kids or your life …

You have the capacity to be generous here. The only question is whether you’re stunting her. No, I don’t think you’re stunting her. I think you’re giving her a lift. I think you’re saying, “Yay! You’re awesome. We’re your biggest cheerleaders, and we want to help you go win.” If she goes out and starts talking about wanting to buy a $25,000 car and going into debt or borrowing $30,000 in student loans, or if she starts living a lifestyle that you don’t agree with or something like that, then you’ve got to stop and say, “No, I’m not going to support that.”

I think this girl’s a rock star. I think you give her every chance you can to help her win with your generosity. On the contrary to stunting her growth, I think you’re building a huge foundation for her to launch from. She may gain a decade of traction because of what you’re doing. I think it’s awesome.