The Not-So Empty Nest Syndrome
Not so long ago, parents focused their energy on guiding teens toward a successful lift-off into adulthood – a recognized formula that included college graduation, a job in their chosen field, and a place of their own. Today all that’s changed, as parents discover that a college degree no longer guarantees independence – but can actually mean ongoing dependence. More and more “boomerang generation kids” head straight back home after graduation … still looking for just the right job, unable to find an affordable apartment, and considering grad school as a fallback.
College Grads Still Find Themselves Facing a Tough Job Market
As the economy limps toward signs of a recovery, the job market remains tough – particularly for young adults looking for that hard-to-find first job. With so many Americans out-of-work and willing to settle for entry-level positions, today’s recent college grads find themselves edged out by more experienced workers.
Today’s Parenting Practices Creates Sheltered Kids
This generation of parents focused on ensuring their own kids’ happiness, self-esteem, and educational achievement – rather than pressing for early responsibility. Parents supported kids’ desire to spend their summers traveling or building their resumes through internships, instead of encouraging them to get an early start in the workforce through babysitting, lifeguarding, paper routes, and lawn service jobs.
Kids’ Current Lifestyle Fosters Unrealistic Expectations
Boomerang kids – many armed with cell phones, laptops, cars, and clothing allowances – often find that jobs and apartments do exist – they just don’t meet their standards. Whereas previous generations knew the road to success began with jobs in the filing room and apartments furnished with milk crates, the concept of “paying your dues” proves elusive with this generation.
Student Loan Debt Proves an Additional Burden
As the cost of college sky-rockets, Boomerang kids find themselves graduating from universities buried in student loan debt. Even kids who do land good-paying jobs struggle under a mountain of debt and high monthly payments that limit their ability to make it on their own.
Tips for Parents Seeking to Push Kids Out of the Nest – Without Pushing Them Away
- Put Deadlines in Place: While parents can serve as a safety net for kids struggling right out of college, help shouldn’t be indefinite. Set a time limit of six months, so kids understand an end date looms on the horizon and can get motivated to ramp up the job hunt.
- Don’t Make it Too Easy: While it may be no problem to toss in your 23-year-old son’s laundry while doing your own, it doesn’t do him any favors. With a warm bed, three meals a day, laundry service, and free WiFi, many Boomerang kids may be hard-pressed to find a reason to strike out on their own. Make expectations clear from the beginning on what kids’ responsibilities will be while living at home, as well as shutting down the parental ATM and requiring to kids to foot their own cell phone bills and car insurance payments.
- Keep Them Off the Couch: The fear for many parents with Boomerang kids centers around kids returning to their teen years – surfing the Internet past midnight, sleeping till noon, and lounging on the couch all day. Insist that while living at home, kids will be expected to get a substantive internship, take a temp job in their field and log serious hours job hunting.
- Help Them Stop Texting and Start Networking: Today’s “digital natives” spend years texting close friends and staying connected via Facebook, and as a result, struggle with the face-to-face networking necessary to land a job. Help kids understand that while the Internet and social media provide a means to make initial connections, nothing replaces meeting a new contact for coffee or asking for an in-person informational interview.
- Suggest Lowering Expectations: After raising kids to reach for their potential and explore their passions, parents find it tough to introduce a jolt of reality. But in a tough job market, entry-level jobs with high salaries, meaningful work, six week’s vacation, and flexible scheduling prove elusive. Let kids know that the way to jumpstart a career often begins with taking an opportunity – any opportunity – and running with it.
Are you the parent of a recent college graduate? Sound off and share your own thoughts on this issue below.