Congratulations to those of you who are now the parents of college graduates. For many, it’s been a long haul, but now your job is done. That’s right. It’s time to turn the reins over to your children who are now young adults. Here’s how you can best help them thrive.
Take them off the payroll. That’s right. For twenty something years, you’ve provided them with financial support so they could live the American dream. You’ve paid the rent while some of them have been living in college dorms with views that you could not even afford to have. You’ve uploaded their accounts with spending money so they could afford to dine out with their friends, while you packed your lunch for work in order to have the funds to do so.
I understand it may be emotionally difficult to cut the cord, but you must do so in order for your adult child to thrive. I’m hearing from many parents that their children have moved back home because they’ve been unable to find the job of their dreams. Some are on the couch playing Candy Crush while others are catching up on four year’s worth of Netflix, while you my friend are still working two jobs to keep the family afloat. Do you see anything wrong with this picture? The sooner your child realizes that they will have to earn money in order to continue to live the lifestyle you’ve provided for them, the sooner they’ll get off the couch and begin to look for work.
Stop sending their resumes out for them. It’s certainly understandable why you may have done this while your child was in school cramming for exams, but in case you haven’t noticed, exam week is done. This is their job search. Not yours. If you really want to help them out, give them the contact information for the college placement office and then step away. I suspect that many will tire of watching their friends post photos and stories regarding their exciting new careers and a few may actually call for help.
Set deadlines. Most people work best when they have a clear idea when things need to be done. This includes young adults, who are quite accustomed to having deadlines. It can be challenging for some to leave school and find that you don’t have to do anything or be anywhere within a specific time frame. Days turn into months and in some cases, months turn into years.
Work with your child to establish a realistic deadline for becoming independent enough to move out of the house. Take it one step further and break this down so they can track their progress as they work towards their ultimate goal. My most successful job search mentoring clients are those who actually set these deadlines for themselves. This is a much more effective approach than having someone (especially a parent) telling you what to do.
Keep your opinions to yourself. The hardest part about being a parent is allowing your child to make their own mistakes. It’s okay to offer your opinion when asked. Otherwise, step away and let the new adult in your family learn those lessons that will serve them well for life.
Provide help when asked. It’s okay to open a door for your child when asked. By that I mean, if your son or daughter asks you to make an introduction to someone you know who can help them find a job, then by all means, do so. Set your expectations so your child knows what to expect. For example, let them know that you expect them to pick up the phone and call this person within two days of the introduction. If they fail to do so, let them know this is the last call you’ll make on their behalf. Then keep your word.
Some of this may actually be harder on you than it is on your child. Stay the course and hopefully one day your child will thank you for giving them the gift of independence, even if they aren’t thanking you today.
[Image: Flickr user Procsilas Moscas]