Let's talk: Should teenagers with jobs have to pay board?

Would you expect adult children living at home to pitch in?

Like it or not, kids are living at home with their parents for longer these days, and in many cases returning to the family home after moving out. 

This obviously comes at a cost, both emotional and financial for the parents in these situations. The extra mouth to feed, and extra energy usage doesn’t come cheap, especially if you’re retired and on a fixed income. 

The question is, if your teen or adult children are living at home, should they be paying rent or board?

One uncertain mum on parenting website Mumsnet asked the question recently. 

“My [son] is finally going to work, he’s 19, hopefully he’ll stick with it,” the mum wrote on the forum. 

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“My [husband] wants to charge him housekeeping money. I was chatting to someone at work and he said that he wouldn’t charge his children to live at home. It should always be their home and he’d never charge his children to live there … What’s the general consensus?”

It turns out, there is no general consensus, as the ensuing argument revealed!

One mum said that she’d prefer her kids contribute with housework and save their money for a place of their own over paying board. 

“If my lot ever got to the point of saving enough and having enough income to live elsewhere, then I would prefer that to charging them rent. 

“It would be more useful if they did housework. Having three young adults cluttering the house makes a lot of extra mess / wear.”

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Another user said that having been made to pay board when she was young, she’d never do it to her own children. 

For others, it would depend on the (adult) child’s work situation. 

“If my kids are in education or apprenticeships then no way will I make them give me money. But once they are working properly and still living here then yes they will have to contribute something.”

It seemed a popular consideration:

“If they are still in education no. But if they are working they as an adult they should contribute to the cost of utilities and food that they use. I know my utilities halved when they were at Uni and my food bill was a third of what it used to be. I don’t see why its OK for me to use my wages to subsidise another adult, who then gets to keep all of their wages to use for fun stuff like going out, holidays and clothes.”

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Other users said that they would charge board, but secretly put it away to gift back to their child at a later date to put towards their own house. 

It’s a relatively new dilemma, as when we were growing up it went without saying that as soon as that first pay packet came in, part of it went straight to mum and dad in board. 

Paying board taught us responsibility and how to budget our money, which was a big advantage when we eventually moved out and had to pay rent or a mortgage, as well as helping our parents out with expenses. 

The fact that it isn’t so common these days might explain a bit about why we hear so much about Millennials getting into financial strife and needing handouts from the “bank of mum and dad”. 

What do you think? Are parents doing their kids a disservice by not making them financially responsible?