Dave Says: Help her get back out there

Dear Dave,

Our daughter recently moved back in with us after she lost her job and her apartment. She hasn’t been able to find full-time work yet, and she had nowhere else to go. My husband and I are nearing retirement age, so we want to do the best and smartest thing to help her get back on her feet. What do you suggest?


Dear Joan,

First, you need to define what helping your daughter really means. What does it look like? In my mind, you haven’t helped her if she’s still living at home two or three years from now. Going to those lengths is called being an enabler. At the same time, you shouldn’t just show her the door and wish her good luck. You and your husband together should come to agreement on a forward-thinking plan that falls somewhere in the middle. I’m talking about something that allows your daughter a little time to heal and regain her dignity, but also includes a plan, expectations, and a move-out date.

If I were in your shoes, there would be requirements attached to her living at home again. One is that she would respect and abide by your household rules. If she’s going to live in your home, she should be expected to respect her parents and their wishes.

Number two, she should be thinking about and working on tangible career steps every single day. I’m pretty sure she could find a part-time job out there to put a little extra money in her pocket. When she’s not earning some cash, she should be focusing on long-term career goals. Sending out resumés and filling out applications for full-time employment needs to be a priority.

The last thing I’ll suggest may sound a little strange, but trust me on this one. Right now, your daughter also needs some kind of physical activity on a regular basis. Exercise stimulates the mind, and she really needs that right now. It’ll also be great for her body.

This young lady has been through a stressful experience. She needs some understanding and support right now. At the same time, you don’t want to let her slide into bad habits and participate in promoting negative behavior. Step in, help her get her life back on track, and get her out in the world again. All three of you will be glad you did!

— Dave