Boomerang Kids Moving Back Home After College

Not since the Great Depression have so many fledgling adults moved into the empty nest with mom and dad. This cyclical trend has accelerated along with the economic crisis. So many of our kids are dealing with school loans or debts and can’t find a job. It makes sense for them to head for home, where there’s the hope of some emotional and financial support.

The statistics have changed markedly over the past few years. Monster’s 2009 annual entry level job outlook reports that 40% of 2008 college graduates moved in with their parents and 42% of 2006 graduates were still living at home. A poll from Twentysomething, Inc. indicates that 85% of 2011 college seniors planned to move back in with their parents. This is attributed to a 15% unemployment rate in the 20-24 year old cohort as well as other economic factors that are postponing financial and residential independence. The numbers are even worse for students who attended for-profit online college programs (and who may not have even left home in the first place).

The huge boom in boomerangs has generated its fair share of pop culture angst. This phenomenon really doesn’t reflect failure on the part of parents or the laziness of kids today. Transition to adulthood just seems to be more fragmented and complicated. And who wouldn’t take advantage of a warm, comfortable and familiar port in the storm?

But coddling can stunt development and over-managing isn’t the best way to monitor the investment you’ve made in your kids. Here are some ideas that will eventually help you reap the dividends:

Have a serious conversation. Understand why your emerging adult is moving back and how you feel about it. It will be best for everyone if, early on, expectations are similar. Watch out for triangulation – that is, identifying any one of you as the problem and aligning one against the other. It’s common for relationships to shift as you all work to accommodate these changes. You need to be prepared for less privacy and spontaneity as well as new patterns of interacting and parenting.

Establish accountability and boundaries. Negotiate household chores and financial obligations upfront. Having rules in place will ease the transition and smooth out the day-to-day interactions. As your kids have been on their own and independent, clarify issues around curfew, checking in and sleepovers. And set limits together, as adults.

Do you have a boomerang kid moving back in? Click on “Comments” below to share your concerns and solutions. Log on Wednesday for more practical ideas that can help your family make it work.

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