Growing Great Families – My 24 year old son is coming home. Can we handle this?
This is a question that is being asked by more and more parents then ever before. According to a recent article, 26% or more than 1-4 adults ages 23 – 28 lives with his or her parents. Even more startling is survey results which revealed that 80% of college graduates moved back home after getting their diplomas, up significantly from the 63% in 2006. The reasons are largely economic, with a tough job market, industry downsizing and 2011 graduates leaving college with an average debt of $22,900. What can be done to keep this experience from becoming a nightmare for both parent and child? The most important thing is to be proactive. If possible, before your adult child returns to the nest or shortly thereafter, hold one or more family meetings where the three R’s – Roles, Responsibilities, Resources – are openly discussed and agreements are reached. If family meetings are part of the family’s routines the tasks is easier. However, it is never too late to initiate the family meeting process as an integral part of growing a great family. Especially important when holding meetings with young adult children is for all parties to be honest about their needs and to give voice to the discomfort that surrounds the dependency relationship created when the adult child comes home again. We also recognize that with all the good planning there will be bumps in the road especially if the return home starts to last longer that expected. Again, the family meeting is the venue for resolving disputes and recalibrating expectations for both the parent and child. There are also positive aspects to having your young adult children return home. If managed well it builds a positive life long relationship between parent and child. We conclude with our “There’s got to be a better way” segment where we share how we as parents have coped with the adult child relationship question.