Numerous bodies of research concur that American young people are experiencing what sociologists call a “prolonged adolescence.” A growing number of parents are experiencing a “failure to launch” in one or more of their post-college children. This generation is more apt to return home than previous ones and continue to live off mom and dad. While there are real challenges present in this job market, there are steps you can take to teach your kids how to be independent when they become a young adult, and if your children are not teens yet, try these 4 Ways to Set Realistic Expectations about Becoming Independent with them now.
If you have a teen, here are 4 ways to encourage their independence.
1. Be Clear Up Front.
Outline your expectations before their college years even begin: you’re supplying them with an education and means to secure good employment, and as soon as they have the degree in hand, you’re turning over the responsibility to them. If your child knows that they’ll be left to deal with the consequences if they’re unprepared to make the leap, that may help them make better choices along the way with regard to major and realistic job prospects.
If your child knows that they’ll be left to deal with the consequences if they’re unprepared to make the leap, that may help them make better choices along the way with regard to major and realistic job prospects.
2. Have Lay-Over Rule.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that while your child looks for a job post-college, they may need a few months to get situated. But don’t let them back into the house under the same arrangement in which they left it: adult children need some form of employment (even if it’s just part time to help out with expenses) immediately while they look for “the” job. Hanging out at home all day while parents go to work is not an option. Also, set a time goal for when they’ll be out, and make sure that they understand that the first job you get out of college probably won’t be your dream job, so don’t be overly picky.
3. Encourage, but Don’t Indulge.
There are lots of things you can do to encourage your adult child while he “finds his place in the world.” But make sure you’re not indulging them to the point that it makes it that much harder to leave. Let him cook dinner for the family some nights, do his own laundry, and pull his weight like the other adults in the home.
4. Don’t Babysit.
If you and your spouse have patiently waited for these empty-nest years and the freedom they afford, don’t forfeit it just because your kid has returned. Want to travel? Go ahead. Want to have friends over and entertain? Have at it. It’s your home and your life, and you should carry on as planned.
Tell us! What are some other ways to encourage independence?