As a therapist for Millennials, I am well aware of the number of twenty-somethings moving back home. And there is certainly no shortage of articles written about why Millennials are returning home to live with their parents again.
These articles cite the latest statistics and explain how Millennials are in tremendous school debt and, even though the economy is improving, they still need to live at home. But as I read these articles, one thing occurred to me - what about the parents?
I noticed that no one was talking about the parents. How having their 20-something living at home again impacts them and their own lives. That while they love their child and want to support them, having their (now) adult kid spread out on the couch asking if there's anything to eat, may not be part of their plans.
There are parenting books on hundreds of subjects: how to get your baby to sleep through the night, how to stop your toddler’s tantrums, how to talk to your kid about death, how to talk to your teen about sex and drugs and the list goes on and on. This is why I wrote a series of books: Launching Your Millennial (soon to be released on Amazon.)
If you have a 20-something living at home or you anticipate your son or daughter may return to the nest after college graduation, here are 3 questions you’ll want to ask yourself:
1) How will I take care of myself?
As a parent myself, I know this is not a question we’re used to asking ourselves. From the moment our child is born, our wants and needs become a distant second (actually more like a distant ninth) to all the other directions we get pulled in.
This time is different. Your kid is no longer a “kid” and their needs when they get home will be very different. While there may be days when they’ll need a shoulder to cry on or need some job-hunting advice, when it comes to the day to day of living, your son or daughter needs to problem solve on their own.
So, let’s get back to you. What changes do you need to make right now that will lift you up emotionally, make you stronger physically and get you grounded spiritually? All the hobbies, activities and goals you’ve been putting off until your child is grown, you don’t need to put them aside now that your son or daughter is home.
There will be times when you’ll see your kid struggling and you’ll feel compelled to rescue them or your kid may say or do something that pushes your buttons and you’ll want to lose your cool. This is why making self-care a priority is so important, when you feel yourself wanting to rescue or lose your cool, you’ll have some alternative ways to manage your feelings.
2) How will I maintain boundaries?
You’re used to setting limits and boundaries with your kid when he or she was growing up. Now that your child is an adult and have been living on their own for a while now, what should you do to maintain your boundaries?
I highly recommend that you and your child (and anyone else living in the home) create a home agreement or contract that outlines the house rules, the length of time your child will be staying with you, what you’re child will be contributing to the home and how you and your kid plan to respect each other’s privacy.
The idea of a contract or agreement can make many parents uncomfortable. Keep in mind, you’re not doing this to punish or hurt your child. You’re doing this so they can flourish and you can keep your sanity. We all do better when we know what we can and can’t do. Just like a curfew kept your teenager safe, the home agreement is going to preserve the safety of your relationship with your child.
3) What will I do if my kid can’t launch?
It might be hard to believe this as you glance over to see your 20-something raiding the fridge (again) but your child wants to launch. I know that it may not always feel that way but it’s a part of our DNA to go out and make our own mark in the world.
The transition from college life to the working world can be tough for many 20-somethings. In the book, I discuss the unique difficulties that 20-somethings face in today’s world. In a nutshell, your kid is facing too many choices in a world that is connected 24/7. Social media can become a constant reminder to your son or daughter that they’re failing at life before they’ve even started.
Between what feels like unlimited choices and the fear of making the “wrong decision” many 20-somethings find themselves “stuck.” This is why you’ll want to ask yourself the question, what will I do if my kid can’t launch?
If your kid is stuck, they can’t see their way out and having another person’s perspective and insight can be vital. You’ll want to ask yourself whether you want to be that person or not. This all depends upon your relationship with your kid as well as how much time and energy you have to give.
I would start out by pointing out to your child that they seem stuck and to brainstorm with them what they need to do differently. It might be worthwhile for you or your child to seek help from a trusted family member, a good friend or possibly a therapist or coach. Whatever option you choose having awareness of the problem is always the first step.