Many business owners and CEOs happen to be parents as well. So these days, when you say “exit strategy,” they’ll not only think of the usual definition–maximizing the value of their business when they’re ready to move on–they’ll also focus on another sort of exit strategy: Getting their grown children out of the house and off the “payroll.”
There is a point in the lifespan of any organism where it must assume responsibility for its own well-being. Let’s look at two real-life anthropological examples: the cheetah and the human. Newborn cheetahs are expected to be self-sufficient just eight weeks after being born. At this tender age, they must hunt for food and learn to defend themselves against predators. (Source: I totally made this up.)
Contrast this with our own species where, due to the prevalence of over-nurturing and helicopter parenting, the age at which the average human finally takes responsibility for himself is now an alarming 27. (Source: Completely fabricated as well.)
Based on these trends, parents are now being forced to develop ‘exit strategies” to get their adult offspring to exit the home. Experts say this is no easy task, but that with a few cleverly designed strategies you should be able to free up that spare bedroom in under two months.
Here are just some of the examples:
- Deal with feelings of guilt: Pushing your 27-year old chick out of the nest can lead to feelings of abandonment, fear of separation and an uneasiness about dealing with the rigors and responsibilities of life. The problem is when these feelings belong to the parent not the child. If you are suffering from feelings of guilt this late in your child’s life, the fastest way to get them out of your house is for you to see a specialist.
- Dramatically increase level of chores: Take a lesson from our agrarian predecessors and ramp up the intensity of household chores. Suggestions include having your son or daughter plow your back yard and plant and harvest corn (NOTE: make sure to call Miss Utility first); having your child make soap from lard (they must supply their own lard); and purchasing two cows and assigning your child daily milking duties at 5 a.m.
- Send the right messages: Collect an exorbitant rent from your offspring. Then use the proceeds to purchase t-shirts and car magnets that say, “I have to get home–my adult child is hungry and can’t feed himself.” This “shaming” approach works only with certain offspring…but when it works it works fast.
- Peer pressure/intervention: Ask a sibling or other 20-something who has already left home (make sure it isn’t one who may end up going back) to come for dinner and ask pre-determined, leading questions, such as, “Mary, tell our Billy what life is like on the outside!” After dinner, gather around to watch the popular A&E reality tv show, “Intervention,” and casually mention that you are close friends with the show’s intimidating professional interventionist.
- Ask a painfully direct but simple question: “Why are you still in my house?” The shock caused by this question to a 20-something who hasn’t been held accountable for his or her actions for two decades is often enough to jolt them into action.
These “exit strategies” should ensure your adult kids will leave the nest post-haste.
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