It has become more of a common problem. Young adults or often called “emerging adults” (between the ages of 18-25) feel caught between adolescence and are not yet ready to identify as an “adult.” They are struggling with “adulting” tasks and continuing to need financial support from parents well into their 20’s. In 2016, 40 percent of young adults of 18-34 lived with parents which is highest amount in 75 years. Some even move back home as they find it difficult to make it on their own. Some reasons may include high student loan bills, skyrocketing apartment costs or uncertainty about their career path.
The issue can be further complicated by parents who are anxious about their emerging adult moving out and may overcompensate by further enabling them to stay at home longer. This could show up through not following through with boundaries, paying for all their bills, doing their laundry, not requiring them to do any chores and not making it necessary for them to hold down a job. In a sense, it can be making it too comfortable for them to ever leave!
So what can you do to support your child to more independence?
1) Start early by teaching them life skills they will need including cooking, cleaning, how to open bank accounts, budgeting, paying taxes as well as ideas on coping with difficult emotions. You cannot assume they know how to these necessary life skills.
2) Have a family meeting and make expectations clear about how long they can stay, what they will be responsible for (laundry, their own groceries, etc) and if you will charge them some rent. Also be sure to make it clear when they do move out what you will and won’t pay for. Be sure you stick to your promises and don’t give in.
3) Be sure not to suffocate them and become overinvolved. This can push many young people away and cause more issues in your relationship. If they are struggling, take small steps to allowing more independence from them (such as requiring certain weekly chores) so they can show responsibility.
4) Allow them to face consequences and don’t remove all potential obstacles. If you don’t allow them to make mistakes and constantly solve problems for them, they will never learn how to overcome difficulties and solve problems on their own. It can be challenging to let go of this control but it is an essential part of raising a healthy young adult.
5) Be patient and allow them to come to you for advice on their future. Many parents speak out of anxiety and a need to control which leads to conflicts and may further have them dig their heels in. Leave the door open for them “I’m here if you want to talk about potential job ideas” but don’t force the discussion. They may shut down if you do and this can cause problems in your relationship with them.
Parenting your emerging adult can be a difficult and painful process for many as you have to relinquish control and you may worry about their safety or ability to manage some situations. It can be a balancing act to know when to let go and when to step in. Just remember by allowing them more freedom to make choices, they will experience both positive and negative consequences which will help them to learn. This is how resiliency is created so they can better manage future problems.
-Chris McDonald, LPCS
Chris is a Licensed Therapist and owns a private practice called Path to Hope Counseling, Inc. specializes in treatment of anxiety, depression and trauma in teens & young adults. She teaches clients mindfulness, meditation and yoga. You can read more about her at https://www.pathtohopecounseling.com.
Picci, A. (2016, December) Young adults living with their parents hits a 75-year high. Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/percentage-of-young-americans-living-with-their- parents-is-40-percent-a-75-year-high/.