The Pomp, The Circumstance

What a new grad needs to know about life, in general.

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The College Grad Comes Home

Essential solutions for living with your college graduate again
Thomas Plante, Ph.D.
This post is a response to Is Going Home After College Graduation the New Normal? by Thomas G. Plante, Ph.D., ABPP

In his post,“Is Going Home After College Graduation the New Normal? No plans after graduation? Welcome to the club,” Thomas Plante, discusses the huge number of college grads who can’t get jobs and wind up back in their adolescent bedrooms. He ends his article by asking readers, “How do we manage these developments?”  I offer some basic starter solutions:

Having a young adult child return home requires some readjusting, planning, and, yes, boundary setting—all of which I addressed in my book, Under One Roof Again: All Grown Up and (Re)learning to Live Together Happily 

Plante notes, “…students run the risk of letting a year turn into two or more without either gainful employment or further education.” The first order of business is to create an exit plan.

Create an Exit Plan Early

Early on, talk about and establish an exit plan—not a hard-and-fast deadline, but a time frame you all agree on, and within which you expect your child to leave. With a hoped-for plan in place, your son or daughter has a goal to work toward. Without it, you run the risk of enabling and allowing him to coast along and take advantage of the good things you provide. A stated date will urge your child toward career success and independence.

Without a solid reason for moving in and a long-range goal for moving out, young adults take a chance when relying on their parents too heavily and losing the sense of purpose necessary to grow as adults.

You Were Commander in Chief

Plante’s points out that “students used to the independence of college return home to parents who expect them to follow house rules like they did when they were in high school.”

Anticipate changes in the person you raised, in your relationship, and in how your household functions. Make your expectations clear about common courtesies such as calling if you will not be home for dinner or to sleep and ask your college grad to help. But, keep in mind that a grown child’s return marks the end of order-giving and order-taking as you knew it. You will need to compromise and reach agreements on chores and the like.

The Job Hunt

Not knowing what’s next in life may be painful for your child. Coming on like a tractor-trailer speeding down the highway will be more irritating than useful.

You can be an enormous help in putting a floundering child on a better course, but only if you proceed with caution and listen carefully for her ideas on which you can build. Direct questioning—“What you do think you will do?”—is rarely productive, because most college graduates often don’t have an answer.

In response to Dr. Plante’s main question, “Is going home after college graduation the new normal?” the answer is a resounding “yes!” However, the pluses are many for both parents and adult children. Eric, a college grad who lives home with his parents, makes this clear: “We now engage each other as friends because I’m older. I like spending time with my parents. We talk about ideas and interests, and that is so much more pleasant than the relationship of parent and teenager.” Eric is not alone in his opinion.

For more on this subject, see: Living with Parents: Stunted Development or Opportunity?; Under One Roof Again: All Grown Up and (Re)learning to Live Together Happily ; 9 Ways to Live with Your Biggest Fan and Harshest Critic: Love My Mom, but...10 Tips for Moving Back In with Parents: You can go home again

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The Pomp, The Circumstance