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Parents, The Empty Nest and Grads at Home

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

Ever since the recession hit the American economy a new development came into being when college graduates returned from school to live at home for an undetermined amount of time because of the job market. That situation has only worsened over the last few years. According to Forbes Magazine, May 2013 issue, 44% of new grads during the 2011/2012 academic year, are living at home.

In addition, students who just graduated in 2013 are expecting to earn $25,000 or less. By today’s standards that is a very low amount of money for a graduate who wants to move out of his parents house and start life as an independent person to earn. In essence, that is why so many young men and women are living at home at a time when parents should be able to be free of parenting responsibilities.  To make matters worse, even for large numbers of those graduates who have jobs, those are part time or are well below what they trained for in school.
An additional statistic is that the age range for those living at home is 20 to 30 years of age.

Once having returned home, life can be difficult for parents and college grads. They are no longer children who can be subject to curfew rules. On the other hand, it is important that they obey house rules with regard to neatness and helping with chores. Because everyone is now adult, there are many annoyances that can become full arguments if differences are not resolved.

What are parents and students to do about the situation? Is there a limit that they should put on how long they remain at home? What complicates the answers to these questions is the fact that some parents feel guilty about allowing their children to leave home when they are earning so little. However and despite this guilt, there are a number of things that both kids and parents can do.

Children and parents need to talk about an exit plan. Included in that plan is that parents charge their children rent and use that money to build up their savings account so that they have a cushion to fall back on when they do move out. Then, too, a mutually agreed on time for how long sons and daughters are to remain at home should be set. To make leaving a little easier, many young people opt for finding roommates to share apartment space so they can live on their own. It’s a good solution for young people who do not yet earn enough to be fully self supporting. Planning is important because living at home can become just too comfortable for young people if they stay too long.

Finally, it’s really important for young people to continue to hunt for jobs that better fit into what they studied and with a more reasonable level of salary. Here, too, it can become too comfortable to settle into a part time job.

Your comments are welcome.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

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