When novelist Thomas Wolf wrote “You Can’t Go Home Again,” he obviously did not realize how the American economy would operate during the early 21st century.
Saddled with student loan debt and facing a sluggish economy, many recent college graduates have to move home with their parents. Children might expect their parents to continue to support them financially, but the parents might be having money problems of their own: Dad could have lost his job in a merger while Mom is working for a struggling company and hasn’t seen a raise in five years.
This is not a recipe for domestic tranquility.
Here are some ways to make the best of it when adult offspring return to the nest:
• Establish boundaries. Is it ok to bring friends over after the bars close at 2AM? Who pays for gas for the car? What about insurance?
• Will the boomerang kid pay rent and/or help with chores? I think they should. If unemployed returning kids can’t pay any rent, all the more reason for them to help. Remember that painting and other home improvements you’ve been procrastinating on for years?
• Speaking of procrastination, the family should have an exit strategy for the boomerang kid. How long with he or she be staying with you? Establish a timeline and goals: saving money, looking for a job, paying down student loans are a few good ones.
• Communicate. Be clear about your expectations. Discuss the goals and ways to achieve those goals. This will minimize misunderstandings.
As for the young adults, they should have a job-hunting plan, make time for networking, get plenty of exercise and not sleep all day. Perhaps they were able to schedule their classes for afternoons and evenings, but most of the working world does not operate that way.
Part-time jobs—no matter how menial—and volunteering are other good alternatives to sitting around the house watching “Friends” and “Family Guy” re-runs.
As for parents, they would be wise to remember two things:
This to shall pass; and admit it to yourselves, you’re going to miss them when they leave again.