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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

“Mom and Dad, I think I need to move back home.” Parents everywhere are hearing that confession more and more often from their college grads. Grown children returning to the nest after college is a phenomenon fueled by the combination of accumulated student debt, poor job prospects, and low-pay for the jobs that are available. What are parents, especially happy empty-nesters, to do?

First, welcome them back and do not be alarmed. This trend is happening everywhere, not just to you and your child. In fact, an overwhelming number of college graduates return home now after they graduate; Some estimates are as high as 85%. So you and your child both need to know it is not your fault or theirs; it is simply a sign of the times. For what it’s worth, your child does indeed have a college degree and will be much better off in their job search compared to others without it. Furthermore, a typical job search is no longer constrained to sending out one’s resume and waiting to hear back from interviews. According to MBA Online, the need for entrepreneurial spirit is greater today than ever before; for many recent graduates, buffing up their personal brand by having a social media presence, networking with like-minded professionals, and doing freelance work will all be necessary to find a job in today’s job market.

Second, recognize that your child likely feels embarrassed, upset and perhaps like a complete failure, even though it is such a common experience. College is supposed to pave the way toward upward mobility; how can it possibly result in being back in one’s childhood bedroom with memorabilia from high school on the walls? Surely a kid is going to feel bad about it. You may even feel just the opposite: happy to have her there, happy to have the house full again. But you need to acknowledge your grad’s feelings. Be upbeat about their future prospects. Remind your child that you are very proud of his accomplishments. Declare that you know the situation is temporary. Convey your confidence that moving home was very smart and will best position them for the future.

Third, adapt your house rules. Your graduate is not a kid anymore and you are no longer entitled to govern her life. On the other hand, you are entitled to the same standards that you would expect from a house guest. Letting you know when they will be home, if they are bringing guests, whether they will be there for a meal are all polite conventions they should expect. Obviously, you also have to talk about their responsibility for rent, cell phone charges, chores, the job search and how long they can stay. On the other hand, telling them who to date or where they can go or whether they can stay out all night are all faux-pas at this age. Remember, they have been highly independent for awhile so keep the house rules to a minimum. At the same time, preserve your own life style and financial health.

Finally, it can be fun. This is an opportunity to have a new, mature relationship with your child. Do not intrude but don’t be a stranger, either. Talk about how your grad sees the world; offer comfort and wisdom; help him with proofing a resume; encourage her efforts to attain independence. And enjoy an outing – going to a game or shopping together. You marveled at her first steps, now you can marvel at their transformation into an independent young adult.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents of college grads who still need their folks.

Image courtesy of Scattynobrain via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.