Most people move out of the family home and set up their own place during their late teens to late 20s. Whether or not this is a smooth transition depends on the reasons for the move and the strength of the family relationships.
Parents need to be aware of their young person’s needs and communicate their concerns. Ideally, both the parents and the young person are happy about the arrangement and the move is well planned.
Reasons children move out of home
Some of the many reasons why a young person moves out of home include:
- wishing to live independently
- location difficulties – for example, the need to move closer to university
- the desire to live in a de facto relationship
- conflict at home
- being asked to leave by their parents.
Issues for parents when children move out of home
If your son or daughter decides to move out, you may feel:
- Worried – you may be worried that your child is not able to look after themselves (for example, manage the washing, cooking and bill paying). You may have concerns about your child’s lifestyle choices, for example, their sexual values or peer group.
- Sad – you may feel grief when your child moves out of home. This is something many parents feel. Parents who worry that their children aren’t ready to take on adult responsibilities tend to experience more grief.
- Resistant – you may not want your child to move out unless they marry or buy a house. If the young person wants to leave home for other reasons, it may cause conflict in the family.
- Embarrassment – you may fret about what other people may think and assume the worst. For example, you might be afraid that your child is leaving home ‘too soon’ and it will make you look like you are not a good parent.
Suggestions for parents when children move out of home
- Solve existing problems – if your child wants to leave home because of a fight or other family problems, try your best to find solutions. Seek professional help if necessary. In the meantime, arrange for your child to stay short term with family or friends.
- Avoid arguments – if you don’t approve of your child’s reasons for moving out, for example, if you dislike their partner, avoid arguing. Accept their decision and help in any way you can. Your positive attitude now will help start your new relationship with them on the right foot.
- Offer practical help – for example, help them in drawing up a budget, help them move, give them a few pieces of furniture or household items. These gestures will be appreciated.
- Continue to communicate – suggest they come home regularly for family dinners and let them know they can call you anytime.
- Prepare for a possible return – don’t be too quick to put their old bedroom to another use. They may need to return home once or twice before they finally find their feet.
- Get involved in other things – if you feel sad and lost without them, actively work on overcoming ‘empty nest syndrome’. Consider returning to work, retraining, travelling, involving your partner in couple-oriented activities, picking up an old hobby or starting a new one.
When ‘leaving home’ is actually eviction
Before you evict your child, think about whether you can really live with the decision. Issues to consider include:
Eviction will have painful consequences. For example, your child may choose to break off all contact.
- Your decision may have a devastating impact on their career plans for the future. They may have to drop out of school or university and get work to support themselves.
- They may not be able to support themselves. For example, their job may not pay enough money to cover expenses or they may not easily get a job. People under 18 may have trouble renting a place because of their age. They may have to rely on the charity of friends, extended family or strangers.
- You may be forcing homelessness upon your child, which includes many dangers, such as prostitution, crime and drug use.
Seek professional help for your family’s troubles. Your doctor is always a good starting point for information and referral.
Where to get help
- Your doctor
- Parentline Tel. 13 22 89
- Home Ground Services Tel 1800 048 325
- Relationships Australia Tel. 1300 364 277
- Centrelink Crisis and Special Help Tel. 13 28 50
- Tenants Union of Victoria Tel. (03) 9416 2577
Things to remember
- Try to solve the problem if your child wants to leave home because of a fight or other family difficulty.
- Offer support and practical help like budget advice, or some furniture and household items to get them started.
- Let your child know you support their decision, but make sure they know your door will always be open.
This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:
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