Ask the Mompreneur:
I’ve heard a lot about this phenomenon of 20-somethings taking much longer to establish themselves than in the past. What is causing all of this extended adolescence and moving back home, and what can I do to prevent it from happening to my kids down the road?
We really have a perfect storm right now of a poor economy, an over-confident generation of young people, and a generation of Boomer parents who still feel young themselves. So this means that someone graduating college right now has sort of drawn the short straw when it comes to how many jobs are available and they’re also dealing with just crushing student loan debt. And this is the same kid who’s been told all their life, growing up, that they are special and can become anything they want to be. So maybe they look at an entry-level job offer and they aren’t that interested.
At the same time, living with their parents isn’t that bad. As matter of fact, it might be quite comfortable because their parents are their buddies. They might even be wearing the same clothes and listening to the same music, and since Boomers have this sense that they themselves aren’t old, then what’s the rush for their kids to leave?
Baby boomer parents, for the most part, were motivated by the best intentions while unintentionally not preparing their children for the realities of life. It's easy to fall into the trap of trying to create high achievers who don't learn the softer skills of becoming responsible and independent, traits kids need to teach themselves. Buck the trend to begin massaging your child's CV's starting in nursery school, and instead stress and instill life skills along with academic mastery.
Also, don't become so child-centric that you allow your child to interrupt you at his or her beck and call. If you're on the phone, let's say, or trying to grab some private time, and your child wants your attention, let them learn to wait.
And finally, I recommend that you give kids - even very young ones - jobs around the house that you expect them to perform. If children shirk their responsibilities, be sure there are consistent consequences.
Jennie Wong, Ph.D., is a syndicated business writer, executive coach, and the author of “Ask the Mompreneur: Small Business Advice on Starting and Growing Your Own Company,” available at www.JennieWong.com. Email your entrepreneurship questions to TheJennieWong@gmail.com.