What to do if your empty nest fills back up
By MEGAN K. SCOTT
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Diana Jenkins was happy to welcome her daughter back home after college — as long as there were rules.
No boyfriends sleeping over. No excessive drinking. A midnight curfew during the week. And her daughter had to tell her if she was not coming for dinner — well before dinnertime.
“We don’t nag her to death,” says Jenkins, 50, who has two other children. “They’re adults, and you have to understand for four years, they have pretty much called the shots in their own life.”
Nearly half of college graduates return to the nest, according to Susan Shaffer, co-author of “Mom, Can I Move Back in with You?: A Survival Guide for Parents of Twentysomethings.” And while these so-called Boomerangers may have come home for Christmas vacation and spring and summer breaks, moving back home for a more permanent period of time is a whole new ball game.
Here are some tips from parents and experts:
Whether it’s applying to graduate school, the Peace Corps, finding employment, saving money or taking a break from life, recent graduates need to have a plan.
“If you encourage your children to start planning right after graduation, it accelerates their progression — career advancement, financial returns, independence, life balance and happiness,” says Nicholas Aretakis, author of “No More Ramen: The 20-something’s Real World Survival Guide.”
Make sure your child knows that the house is not party central, says Jenkins.
Discuss whether friends and significant others are allowed to come over. Set guidelines on drinking. Decide whether they should tell you where they are going.
But don’t be too controlling, says Jenkins. Understand that your grown child may sleep in on weekends, hang out with friends and spend hours on a cell phone or laptop.
MAKE THEM CONTRIBUTE
Many Boomerangers are not going to have money to pay room and board, but you should make them contribute something to the household, whether it’s household chores or chauffeuring a younger sibling around, says Alexandra Robbins, author of “Conquering Your Quarterlife Crisis.”
Establish what chores you’ll assume — say, cooking and laundry — and what you’re willing to pay for, such as health insurance, food or car payments.
SET A TIME LIMIT
Most Boomerangers will move out within a couple of years. But there are some who are failing to launch, according to William Damon, author of “The Path to Purpose.”
Therefore, parents should set a time limit for how long their child can live in the house that can be extended if necessary. In the meantime, Aretakis suggests parents help their child develop short- and long-term personal and professional goals.
Published in The Messenger 4.28.08