Adolescence is defined as a transitional stage of physical and mental human development that occurs between childhood and adulthood. The end of adolescence varies by country, culture, and function; even within a single culture there can be different ages when an individual is considered by society mature enough to do certain tasks.
An increasing amount of college graduates have received their degree only to move home. In a sense, this post grad home life is a new form of prolonged adolescence. Obviously the twentysomething age group is physically grown up, yet they are still dependant on mom and dad for room and board.
Children of baby boomers (boomerangs) would be perplexed at the idea of their own 22-year-old mom or dad moving back in with grandma and grandpa. Baby boomers are more independent and self reliant, growing up in an age where they questioned both the status quo and established authority systems. As adults, baby boomers are extremely hard working and may define themselves by their professional accomplishments. Boomers may criticize younger generations for their lack of work ethic or commitment to the work force.
Boomerangs leave home to go to college only to graduate from college and move back home. This can be a mixed blessing for parents, emotionally and financially. Many kids move home due to the lack of availability of a job and student loan debt. Financially, for students graduating with $23,000 in debt, it makes sense to move home and save money. Some reports list numbers as high as 80% of college graduates as moving back home.
But what about the 21-25 year olds who are at community college or are not enrolled in school who are living with mom and dad? There’s a seeming lack of motivation and independence which was previously possessed by their baby boomer parents. Perhaps home life was too good to them, house too nice, to the point where they never want to leave.
If your boomerang child flys home, or if you want to make your child independent enough to leave home, here are several tips for parents:
- Have a serious discussion. The conversation should occur early on to ensure you and your child have the same expectations about living arrangements. Figure out why your child has decided to live at home: to start a career and save money, prepare for graduate school, or take a break from everything?
- Set clear expectations. Talk about your expectations regarding chores and expenses. Discuss whether he or she can have dates over for dinner, or if boy/girlfriends can spend the night. If your child is sleeping out, should s/he call home first? Setting and enforcing expectations can help children learn the skills they need to live independently.
- Set a time limit. If your ultimate goal for your kid is independence, set a limit as to how long he or she can live in your house. You can adjust the deadline later if necessary. If everyone is on the same page it will avoid the resentment that may arise from getting the boot out of the house.
- Keep promises. If parents and adult children hold to their agreements and continue to respect one another, they won’t encounter many problems. Resentment can arise when parents or children are not doing what they’ve agreed upon. If things start to unravel, have a family meeting to discuss expectations and boundaries.
- Charge Rent (?). For some parents, charging rent seems ridiculous. But for other parents trying to create independence in their child, charging rent, even a minimal amount, helps prepare their adult child for living independently.
When it comes to debt and helping out your child financially, here are tips to remember:
- Help them restructure debts, rather than bailing them out. Teach them how to avoid new debt. One option is to match debt-reduction payments; for the child to put away credit cards and live within their means. Credit card bills should always be paid on time!
- Don’t sacrifice your own financial future. Decide how much you can afford to and want to help. Remember that your children have decades to build their financial security, while you may be only a few years away from your retirement date. Ironically, if you are not careful, you could end up depending on your children for help in your old age.
- Stay organized. Having children return home can be stressful and one way to manage stress and anxiety is to stay organized. Know where important papers, such as life insurance or student loan bills are kept.
Bill Coplin, author of 25 Ways to Make College Pay Off, said boomerangs moving home for financial reasons may have a downside as well.
“First, the graduate lives at an unrealistic level of comfort, making a break for independence difficult,” Coplin says. “Second, the financial pressure to stick [with] a job and work hard is not there if he can quit and not become homeless. Third, it’s frequently a sign that the new graduate is unwilling to be an adult.”
To the college graduate moving back home, here are tips for you:
- Set a mutually agreed upon time limit; a clear timetable for how long you will live at home.
- Be actively pursuing a graduate degree or looking for employment.
- Make sure you save money. Not having to pay for rent or food will save a substantial amount of money, don’t spend it at the bar or partying with friends.
- Do as much as you can do for yourself. Pay your own bills on time, and handle your own comings and goings. Don’t stay out late if you have a job interview the next day, or don’t blow off applying for jobs to hang out with friends. The longer you wait to apply, the less likely you’ll get the job you want.
Even employed boomerangs may live at home because they cannot afford a house or the cost of renting an apartment. One statistic listed house prices as five times the average income, compared to two to three times twenty years ago.
The best case scenario is when the adult boomerang kid works and contributes to the house. The worst case scenario is when there’s no job, no contribution, no end date, and parents are at odds over the child’s presence.
Joseph Tecce, a psychology professor at Boston college, thinks that parents have to realize that their adult kids are no longer children. He doesn’t believe in charging rent or setting time tables, but says that there must be some guidelines.
“Parents are not running a hotel. Everyone should say this is a chance for us to enter into a cooperative venture. We love each other and we’re going to help each other out,” said Tecce. As for benefit of the parents, the child can refill the empty nest and “make a contribution to enrich the parents’ lives.”
Tecce also said that boomerangs shouldn’t feel like a failure due to their loss of independence, as “Who would have ever thought the economy would be this bad?”
Since 1975, the relative earnings of young employees has fallen. Back then, the average 23 year-old would get 90% of the average salary. Today, they get 70%. After three and a half years of work, most graduates are still not earning about the median salary. They have a high tax burden for student loans repayments, along with federal tax and car and health insurance.
Unless parents can afford to finance a second house or an apartment for you, many times the only option is to return home. There is a job shortage due to the recession; experts speculate there is one job to four or five people applying for it.
As a result of boomerangs coming home, baby boomers are really part of the sandwich generation, looking after older kids and even older parents.
For the boomerangs, living at home for most means living far from the city – the city that big banks, advertising, publishing, and politics are centered around. Those who don’t live close, or can’t afford to, won’t have access to the internships and low paid jobs needed to enter certain careers.
Nagging parents who are irritated that their children are sitting around the house won’t help the mental well being of the boomerangs. Unemployment can lead to depression, and depression doesn’t help self motivation, a vital trait needed to seek employment and one that is crucial in meeting new people in the work field. If your boomerang kid is depressed, seek help at Apex Behavioral Health!