By Sandy Cox, MS Director, Counseling Center
One of the latest college phenomenons actually relates to life after college. More and more students are making the choice to move back in with their parents after college. Some do so to save money while paying back student loans, while others just didn’t plan ahead. Whatever the reason, the resulting experience can be uncomfortable. We offer the following tips to parent and student alike to better the odds of enjoying this time together.
We recommend talking prior to the graduate returning home. A frank conversation about the expectations from both sides is absolutely necessary. Mutually agreed upon expectations are the ones that usually get met. A graduate has lived by their own rules for the most part for some time, thus it will be an adjustment for them to think about how their decisions affect others. For instance, they might not think staying up to the wee hours of the morning impacts anyone else, but it can. They might not think about actually throwing out the carton of milk of which they just finished it off, which could make a parent very irritable. So remember, talk about all of the rules and expectations together to find some- thing all parties can live with.
Discuss paying for rent, utilities, etc. Negotiate something reasonable to assist in savings, or encourage the savings of at least 25% of the student’s salary for the eventual move out.
Although having a live-in maid, personal chef, and car repairman is appealing to most, it will not encourage independent living. The graduate should do their own laundry, pay for their own gas, and contribute to taking care of themselves anyway possible if they truly want to be an adult.
Parents and siblings tend to feel more gracious towards the returned family member if they contribute to a better home life. Taking out the trash without being told or making dinner for everyone without being asked can go a long way towards positive feelings. Coming home and fighting with siblings and/or creating more work for other family members can create a cranky family situation.
Set a time limit:
Some parents don't ever want to see their son or daughter leave the house, some really didn't intend to see much of them again when they dropped them off at school, and some are looking for the in- between. In the in-between, discuss what are some reasonable goals for the independent move out and how everyone can work together to attain the goals. If you just don't see how moving back in can work, parents could attempt to assist in financial support for a set time for an apartment on their own.
Enjoy the time together:
As life goes on, it becomes much harder for families to spend time together. Now is the time to watch the game together, sit out on the deck and discuss how everyone's days were, and to show interest in sibling's activities. There will always be time for friends and work, but it will not be often when you have a complete access to your family, take the time to enjoy it.