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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

They're Baaaack - When the Empty Nest Refills!!

Congratulations to the college graduating class of 2010. College graduation is an exciting time of transition and new beginnings. However, not everything is new! For many, the first step is a move back home with mom and dad.

CollegeGrad.com is the foremost job site for entry-level positions and conducts an annual online survey of new college graduates. The trend is clear - college grads are increasingly moving home after graduation. Last year, 80% of the graduating class of college kids moved back home with their parents, up from 77% in 2008, 73% in 2007, and 67% in 2006. The class of 2010 will no doubt follow this pattern.

These young adults aren’t generally spoiled “slackers” and there are several factors contributing to this trend. The economy is very unfriendly for job seekers at any level and college graduates are competing for employment with more experienced and seasoned applicants. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in October 2009, unemployment of 20 to 24 year olds was at 15.6%, compared to 8.7% for people over 25. Additionally, there is a huge gap today in what an entry level job – assuming you can find one – pays and what it costs to live.

Another factor identified is that students born in the 1980’s and 1990’s tend to have closer ties with their parents, and feel no stigma to moving back home after graduation. Aaron Krasnow, a counselor at a major university, discusses this trend. He states that in “previous generations, parents thought they were helping their children become independent by pushing them out the door – but boomer parents are more likely to welcome that their children stay home longer.” He further states, “generally speaking, this generation of parents is closer to their kids than any before them.”

Parents of past generations grew up in an era where after finishing your education; you got a job, moved out, got married and had kids - - in that order. Today there is simply not the same consistent blueprint. Today’s young adults typically do not marry immediately after school and may wait years before starting a family. The traditional path to adult life is simply not uniformly followed by this generation.

Parents who welcome back their adult children should keep in mind that their children deserve to be treated with respect, and should not be treated like small children who still need to be guided about how to eat or dress, when to go to bed and how late to stay out at night.
It is easy to slip back into old roles, but it’s not healthy for anyone. When an adult child moves back home parents are still entitled to enjoy freedom, time together as a couple, and a quiet, peaceful home. Your grown child is entitled to be treated as an adult, a role that includes freedoms and responsibilities.

Studies show that the return to the nest can be positive when there is an honest and open discussion about expectations. Laying down ground rules about the sharing of household chores (making dinner, doing laundry, food shopping, or running household errands)-either in place of or in addition to any rent; financial issues; and time limits for the arrangement is crucial. Having children return to the nest can be a wonderful time of family closeness but only if there is a clear understanding of expectations.

The transition for both parents and adult children can be very difficult. Expect bumps and address any issues before resentments develop. With mutual respect and acceptance, parents and their young adult children can establish boundaries as they transition through the next season of life.

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