Can you believe the back-to-school ads are already starting? While many parents and grandparents are about to begin the how-many-days-'till-school countdown, there are a lot of you who will not be sending the kids back to school: Nearly six million of you, to be exact, will continue being parents to your college graduates who, come September, are neither going back to school nor moving out of your house.
That's right. Nearly six million young adults are living with their parents, up 25 percent since 2007. In fact, Time Magazine reports that 85 percent of new college graduates moved back in with their parents.
No more back-to-school?
Normally, around this time of the summer these parents would be starting the process of getting their kids ready to head back to college. Instead, they are facing a full nest come September. In preparation for the big day when your kids DON'T move out, I thought it might be helpful to ask an expert for some rules, tips and advice on dealing with - and living with - boomerang college graduates.
I asked my go-to expert Social Psychologist Susan Newman, blogger at Psychology Today, author of 15 books, most recently, Under One Roof Again: All Grown Up and (Re)learning to Live Together Happily, to help us all come up with new ground rules.
In an earlier post, Midlife and Moving Back Home, Dr. Newman offers great advice on how to manage moving back in with mom as a midlifer.
Here is Part I of a two-part series featuring tips from Dr. Newman:
Avoid blame: "Parents often wonder what they did wrong when their college graduates are not immediately independent. Rest assured, you didn't fail as a parent and your child didn't fail as an adult. Times have changed and not favorably for launching young adults. When you consider low take-home pay, high rental costs, a tight job market, and student loans to repay, it comes as no surprise that more and more college graduates are returning to the nest."
Be optimistic: "Although the stigma of children returning home after college has all but disappeared, many families discover that free rent comes at a price. Nestling in with mom and dad may start out as a financial issue, but quickly can blossom into something else entirely. "
Create an exit plan: "Early on talk about and establish an exit plan, not a hard and fast deadline, but a timeframe when you expect your child to leave. If you have a hoped-for plan in place, your son or daughter has a goal to work toward. Without it, you run the risk of enabling and allowing him to coast and take advantage of the good things you provide. A stated date will urge your child toward career success and independence. Revisit the plan every six months or so and adjust the date as needed."
Decide question of rent or no rent: "Parents frequently have difficulty deciding if their adult child should pay rent. Paying rent, even a small amount, encourages responsibility and is a symbol of maturity. For those who are job hunting (and those not) support around the house may be payment enough for you. For offspring with jobs, determine a realistic amount together. What to do with the money is your decision. You may need it to run the household. If not, you can put it in a savings account to give back as a going-away gift—a surprise nest egg to help with security deposits or moving expenses. Some parents prefer not to collect rent and advise their children on savings and saving plans."
Emotional support?: "In a world that couldn't care less, it is comforting to depend on parents for emotional support as well as some of life's necessities. On your end, it can be easy to surrender boundaries for the joy of having your child home. You want to be certain you don't slip back into childhood rearing patterns of doing everything. This isn't the same rebellious, perhaps a trifle inconsiderate, teenager who left what seems a few short years ago. But, it will feel that way when your son or daughter once again returns the car with an empty gas tank, leaves the lights on all night, and piles dirty laundry sky high on the floor in the bedroom you had considered your permanent office or den."
Find a new relationship: "Your "new" boarder is not a guest; he or she is a family member who should share the burden of running the household. No longer a helpless baby and perfectly capable of pitching in, you'll have ask for help with the yard work, grocery shopping or assistance with meal preparation. Have your able resident do some of your laundry or agree that he will take care of his/her own."
Read Dr. Newman's great advice for mid lifers moving back in with mom:
Want to know more about the secrets lives of college students?