Teen Parenting Expert’s Tip – March

Failure to Launch—Top Four Factors

By Barbara McRae, MCC

It’s an astonishing fact that 64% of new grads move back home after college. Increasingly students find it difficult to get hired and earn a living, to become financially independent of their parents. It’s a confusing time for these “Boomerang Kids” and for their parents.

Young adults are indeed becoming more difficult to coax out of their comfy childhood
homes. According to Twentysomethings.com, since the ’70s, the number of 26-year-olds still living at home has nearly doubled! There are four factors that contribute to this change:

1. Students Are Unprepared
They are overwhelmed by the prospect of responsibility or unmotivated to live independently. They would rather play it safe by occupying the family home, playing computer games, and just hanging out.

These kids often grow up living a privileged lifestyle. In this case, well-meaning parents provide their children with all the amenities of affluence. The parents are focused on doing more for their children than their parents did for them—at the expense of keeping them dependent. Young adults don’t move out because they’ve got it made!

How you can help: Start early. Teach teens how to become self-sufficient by giving them opportunities to grow into healthy adults. Show them how to create a budget and how to save for big expenditures. Then let them make their own choices and reap the consequences. Step back; don’t rescue. Teenagers need to clean up their messes; otherwise no growth takes place and they won’t make it as an adult on their own.

2. Students Are Cautious or Clueless About a Career
They want a great life, but are unsure how to discover their ideal career path. They approach college with the same trial and error mindset their parents had only to find out that it no longer prepares them for today’s competitive world.

Parents do their kids a disservice by waiting until they are 17 or 18 before initiating career-related discussions. In our dynamic society where change is a daily diet, this is much too late! It can take years to prepare for the perfect career. Beginning early will help teens maximize their opportunities in high school and make college a much better investment.

How you can help: Parents can help teens and young adults get career savvy by initiating career discussions and/or providing career coaching services right now. Young adults can begin using networking (the #1 job search technique) as they search for part-time jobs during high school and summer vacation. There’s no need to wait until college graduation to learn how to begin building a satisfying future.

3. Students Have Personal Problems
They don’t have effective life coping skills, have failed relationships or are grieving some other loss or wrestling with a challenging life event.

How you can help: If your young adult is struggling emotionally, don’t make the mistake of thinking it will somehow magically get better without an intervention. Tough love requires that you insist your adolescent get professional help so that he or she can move forward. If you don’t know how to have that kind of conversation, refer to the seven steps in my bestselling book Coach Your Teen to Success.

4. Students Have Mounting Debt

They get pulled into the trap of huge debt at a young age. Young adults often use a credit card as if it were plastic money. It’s not unusual for the average college student to have $3,000 in credit card debt by the time they graduate. This situation is compounded when grads are also strapped with paying off huge student loans. Without money management skills and solid job prospects, young adults move back home with their parents.

How you can help: Teens can’t learn to manage money if they don’t have any or if
parents always pay for everything. If your offspring moves back home, I recommend you charge a nominal amount for room and board. As an adult member of your household, it’s important for your young adult to contribute to household chores and expenses.

If the purpose of your child’s return home is to pay off bills or a college loan, have a realistic financial plan and stick to it to make sure your young adult moves in the direction of independence. Most parents enjoy having their children visit and will consider offering some short-term help. However, indulging an adult child’s inaction does not help teens begin their own life.

© Barbara McRae, MCC
Teen Parenting Expert, Campus Calm

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