It’s that time of year again, when parents are driving little Johnny or Suzy to college to help them move into their dormitory. They’ve gotten their child everything they need to survive, go to class, and hopefully accomplish something great. But while parents have given their children what they need to get through college, are their children ready for the world that awaits them afterword? And if not, are they ready for their now empty nest to soon refill?
As a parent of two who are under ten, I can appreciate the conflicting emotions that are sure to come as our “babies” stretch their wings and fly out of the nest for the first time. I know this because the first year I moved into the college dorm room on an August afternoon many moons ago, my Mom cried as she hugged me and said goodbye. Mom and Dad were happy that I’d started my life as an adult, but sad to see the person present in their life for 18 years suddenly leaving. At the same time, though, they got their personal lives back. They didn’t have to drive me everywhere and attend all my activities. They didn’t have someone rolling their eyes at them or arguing about the house rules. They could be a couple again.
But after I graduated from school, I did what a lot of kids do. I moved back in with Mom and Dad. Not for very long, it was only a few months before I moved out again to get my master’s degree and be completely independent. I knew I didn’t want this situation to be permanent. I wanted my own place, living under my own rules. As much as I loved my parents, living with them for anything longer than a few months was not going to work for me. However, there are a lot of adults in their twenties and even thirties who aren’t like me. They have moved back into their parents’ home and become permanent residents, much to the chagrin of their parents.
It’s become such a growing trend that WikiHow, one of the leading “how-to” websites on the internet, has an article on how to get your adult child to move out in nine steps. There are countless other websites, news stories, and blogs devoted to this issue as well. There’s even a term that’s entered the lexicon to describe it: boomerang kids.
To be sure, the reasons for young adults moving back into their childhood home are many. For some, it may be a matter of comfort. Life is good when someone else is making dinner, doing your laundry, and tending to your needs. For others, it might be they are psychologically unprepared for the harsh reality of the world. But for many, it’s a matter of economics. When you get out of school, you usually don’t jump straight into a high paying job and the costs of living can make things challenging for someone trying to get started in their career. Parents, being parents, want to help their kids in any way possible. But sometimes that help can actually hinder their growth and soon you have a 30-year-old man-child in your basement.
It’s a fine line between help and harm and this is what we will discuss today: giving your child the support they need to stand up on their own two feet and then giving them the kick in the pants they need to get their legs moving out of your front door and into a job and life of their own.
Having “The Talk”
The first step to prevent this from becoming a long-term scenario is to sit down with your son or daughter and establish some rules and a timeline with interim goals and an end-date. If you don’t do this, you’re sending the message that they can be in your home for as long as they want and torpedo any motivation they may have. As Plato once said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” If your child doesn’t feel it’s a necessity to get a job and start their own life that’s separate from you, in all likelihood, they won’t (or, at least, it’s going to take longer than someone who is highly motivated).
Your timeline should be realistic. If it’s a matter of finding a job that pays enough to ensure their costs of living are met, the general rule is that for every $10,000 in salary they are seeking, expect one additional month to their job search. For instance, if they want to live in an area where they would need to earn $30,000 in either salary or wages in order to meet their basic needs, give them at least three months to find the job and maybe some extra buffer time to save up enough to get them started on the right foot. In this discussion, you might also want to help them determine their budget and the difference between what they need vs. what they want.
The goals you and your child put together in your talk should be things that can be measured or checked off. For instance, your child should be able to tell you what they did each week toward acquiring their job. So, write a few goals down that relate to their activities, such as the number of jobs applied, the number of people they networked with, the amount of time they spent researching, etc. This will help them feel accountable for their actions. Watching soap operas or playing video games isn’t helping them towards their final goal of getting a job and a new apartment. This is the only way you’re going to make them understand that.
Ultimately, this must be an adult conversation and a mutual agreement must be arrived at its conclusion. You’re no longer the parent telling your little one what to do. This means that you and your adult child have to agree on all the terms and conditions of their temporary stay, otherwise it’s a no-go. Remember, you are not obligated to allow them into your home. If they can’t respect your requirements, it’s probably better that they find another way. It’s tough love, but love none-the-less. Otherwise, your living arrangements will just harbor resentments.
When it comes to helping your adult child become self-sufficient, it’s important to understand what is good support and bad support. You are not helping your child if you’re cooking meals for them, doing their laundry, or offering them an extended stay rent-free. This kind of support creates reliance, not independence. Instead, help them in real and tangible ways that will aid them in getting the good job that they desire.
This would include helping them network by introducing them to people you know who could assist them in their job search, be it with more information or connecting your child with other people they know in the job field or industry. Young people don’t have an extensive network, but it’s likely that you have met many people over the years who are either directly or indirectly related to the job field or industry that your son or daughter is interested in.
You can also assist them in getting them networking- and interview-ready by helping them select and purchase a good outfit that’s in your budget, but outside their’s. Also, if your son doesn’t already know how to tie a neck-tie, this would be a great time to teach him the skill. Finally, guide them on what is and is not appropriate attire for work. It’s a discussion they need to have. Speaking as a former Recruiter, it seems far too many young people haven’t received this advice.
Support your child with encouragement. Searching for a job can feel pretty demoralizing, especially each time you get passed over for someone else. Help them keep their spirits up. Let them know everyone goes through the same thing. Talk to them about how much you struggled at their age. Tell them that you’re as certain that they’re going get a good job as you are that the sun will rise tomorrow. Most of the time, that’s all they need to carry on.
Finally, you could offer a gift of financial assistance to get professional career consultation. Finding a new job is challenging for anyone, but for a young person it can be especially difficult. First of all, they confront the classic conundrum of needing experience to get their first professional job, but needing their first professional job to get experience. Then, they have to craft a resume for the first time. Next they have to learn how to effectively network on the fly, figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Once they finally get an interview, they often don’t know what to say during one and are extremely nervous. And finally, when they are offered a job, they don’t know how to negotiate to make sure that they are maximizing their earning potential. Professional assistance can make this journey a lot smoother.
Help Them Pack One Last Time
If things go according to plan, your baby boy or girl will be a thriving adult in no time. It was nice reconnecting with them, but all good things must come to an end. It’s time to set them on their journey one last time. This time, clear out all their childhood belongings. They probably don’t need them, but at the very least, you can reminisce while you take a stroll down memory lane with the grown man or woman you once held in your arms.
Cry a little. It’s ok.
You’ve done well. Be proud. Not just of him or her, but of you, too.
At RockIt Career Consultation Services, our mission is to help you discover your true strengths and use these strengths to set your course to something more rewarding and exciting in your career.
We will guide you on what job or career best suits you and then help you market yourself through your resume, your networking strategies, your interview skills, and your negotiation to ensure that you are doing something you love and are maximizing your earning potential. Throughout, we will be there to keep you motivated and determined.
We’d love to help you launch your career and encourage you to learn more about the services we can provide you on your path to a more prosperous future. With our help, you will become the applicant every company wants to hire!