Your child graduated from college, only to enter a lackluster job market with little promise for financial stability, at least in the near future. Instead, the kids have headed back to the roost. Now what?
According to the New York Times, a study conducted by Ameriprise Financial revealed that more than half of baby boomers (the tumultuous generation born between 1946 to 1964) report they‘ve allowed their adult children to move back home, rent free. You already know how I feel about personal responsibility – but of course, ultimately I feel this decision is a highly personal one best left to parents.
Still – I want to weigh in here, because that same study revealed something I hear all too often. More than 90% of those parents said they’ve have provided some kind of support for expenses to their adult children to defray costs associated with vehicles, health insurance or rent, food and utilities.
But here’s the real issue – only 25% say they are saving funds for their own future. And that’s where I have to offer fair warning. Our first responsibility to adult children now is to take care of our own futures. Otherwise, when it’s time retirement, there could be trouble. And I’m certain boomers don’t want to be a burden on their own families. So take care of your long-term goals, first.
As a mother of three, I understand the challenges many parents face when trying to individuate from their adult children. Growing up, it is critical for us as parents to empower their journey by training them from a very early age to earn and steward their own money, so one day, they can enjoy their own financial independence. It is the job of parents to work themselves out of one – to set children free to make their own way. There is no better avenue to promoting self-esteem then to allow a child to earn his or her own successes (no matter what age our children are).
But in a down economy, when even service jobs are scarce – reality often dictates that we must help our adult children. So I’d like to offer a few parameters to follow when welcoming the kids back into the nest. (Just when you getting used to quiet evenings alone!)
6 Tips for conquering the Boomerang effect
- Communicate expectations. True, your child has probably kept to his or her own schedule at school and life in general. But if you just can’t sleep until they’ve arrived home safe and sound, implement a curfew out of respect. (I can’t think of a better incentive for them to work toward moving out!)
- Establish household responsibilities. Chores are back! Ensure your adult kids help out around the house with shopping, cooking, cleaning, and yard and vehicle maintenance. This gives them the message that you are no longer fully responsible for their lives, and they must earn their keep, so to speak.
- Determine financial responsibilities. It’s your call as to whether your kids will contribute financially, but it is a good idea to at the very least require them to save a portion of any funds they earn, or pay toward even a small amount of rent. You can always put it aside for them as an extra savings toward a down payment on a rental deposit, or even toward the sale of a home. This will establish discipline if they hadn’t learned it beforehand.
- Determine a goal toward employment. Even if your child has not secured a job worthy of his or her education level, there is nothing wrong with requiring him or her to get a filler job in the meantime. (Better yet – teach them to launch their own business and inspire entrepreneurship!) At a minimum, you can prevent couch potato syndrome from setting in by requiring them to be actively seeking employment so they don’t get too comfortable while they are with you.
- Plan a goal for moving out. Discuss a goal for your child’s departure date, and empower him or her with resources to earn, steward and save the funds they’ll need to make it on their own. It isn’t easy to set those boundaries, but you’ll give your children the message you believe in their abilities!
- Put it in writing. Having a written agreement will allow you a tool to refer back to in order to hold your child accountable for maintaining personal responsibility and working towards independence.
Remember – parents need to give their children both roots and wings. But the goal is not to have them fly back to the nest whenever times get challenging! Try not to feel guilty, but instead, set expectations, offer support; and remind your child that achieving your own financial stability is a gift they’ll appreciate one day!