Kids Who Won't Leave Home
The latest parenting challenge is dealing with emerging adults who have no intention of leaving the nest. Many 19- to 29-year-olds either return home after college or they've never even left home. The media refers to them as "Boomerang Kids." Parents are worried that their kids won't leave home.
This new phenomenon is highlighted in the movie Failure to Launch. Matthew McConaughey plays Tripp, 30-something bachelor whose parents want him out of the house. They've hired Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker), an interventionist, to help him move out. Paula has a track record of successfully boosting men's self-confidence to cause them to want to be independent.
Interestingly, this story line is not as far-fetched as it may seem. Young adults are indeed becoming more difficult to coax out of their comfy childhood homes. Since the '70s, the number of 26-year-olds still living at home has nearly doubled! Here are the top 4 factors contributing to this change:
1. They Are Unprepared
They are overwhelmed or unmotivated to live independently. They would rather play it safe by occupying the family home, playing computer games and delivering pizza.
These kids often grow up living the life of the privileged. Here, well-meaning parents provide their children with all the amenities congruent with an affluent lifestyle. The parents are focused on doing more for their children than what their parents did for them – at the expense of keeping them dependent. Kids don't move out because they've got it made!
When your financial generosity isn't combined with teaching kids how to become self-sufficient at an early age, we cannot expect them to automatically possess adequate life skills when they reach legal adulthood. How will they gain the skills to confidently live their own life when they haven't had the opportunity to do things for themselves?
2. They Are Cautious or Clueless
They are committed, but unsure how to discover their ideal career path. They approach college with the same trial and error mindset their parents had only to find out that it no longer prepares them for today's competitive world.
Parents do their kids a disservice by waiting until they are 17 or 18 before initiating career-related discussions. In our dynamic society where change is a daily diet, this is much too late! It's best to start young, at age 13.
This stage of development is the perfect time to begin connecting the dots between what they love to do and possible career options. It can take years to prepare for the perfect career. Beginning early will help teens maximize their opportunities in high school and make college a much better investment.
3. They Have Personal Problems
They don't have effective life coping skills, have failed relationships or are grieving some other loss or wrestling with a challenging life event.
In Failure to Launch, we learn that Tripp's parents indulged him largely because the woman he loved died, and he hasn't gotten over his loss. When Tripp falls in love with Paula – the new girl of his dreams – his self-sabotaging habit of dumping a girl before she can get too close gets reactivated. Finally, his friends intervene and Tripp eventually faces his demons, to everyone's delight.
If your teen is struggling emotionally, don't make the mistake of thinking it will somehow magically get better without an intervention. Tough love requires that you insist your adolescent get professional help so that he or she can move forward. If you don't know how to have that kind of conversation, consider getting help from a parenting expert.
4. They Have Mounting Debt
They've accumulated significant credit card debt and moving back in with their parents is a way to pay it off.
According to the National Credit Card Research Foundation, 55 percent of students ages 16 to 22 have at least one credit card. If your teen falls into this group, make sure you monitor spending together online. Helping your teen understand how to budget and manage credit cards will be important for handling a household budget in the future.
Kids can't learn to manage money if they don't have any or if parents always pay for everything. If your offspring moves back home, I recommend you charge a nominal amount for room and board. As an adult member of your household, it's important for your young adult to contribute to household chores and expenses.
If the purpose of your child's return home is to pay off bills or a college loan, have a realistic plan and stick to the plan to make sure your young adult moves out of the house.
Determine Goals and Stick to Them
Most parents enjoy having their children visit and will consider offering some short-term help. However, indulging an adult child's inaction does not help your son or daughter begin his or her own life. If your child defaults on your agreement, be willing to enforce consequences to help him or her launch into responsible adulthood.