At graduation ceremonies across the country parents will be crying for many reasons, the parental pride, a job well done, and all that good stuff. But for many, those tears won't be wet with sentimentality, but with a bit of angst — their kids will be coming back home. According to some reports, 80 percent of college students are returning home to mom and dad after graduation.
"The parental expectation of having an empty nest is increasingly giving way to the reality of a crowded nest, thanks to the boomerang effect," says Jacob Gold, a retirement coach with ING. [More from Forbes: Best cities for raising a family]
While right now, it's the college kids who are returning home, they are just the latest influx. According to a recent Pew Research Center report on the "boomerang generation," three-in-ten young adults between the age of 25-34 have moved back home in recent years as a result of the weak economy. They're broke. On average, the total debt is $45,000, ranging from $12,000 for ages 20-21 to $78,000 for 28-29 year-olds holding debt, according to a survey of 20-somethings by The PNC Financial Services Group.
So, ready or not, here they come. Here's what you can do to help them to "launch", keep peace in your household and some cash in your pocket.
Decide what you have on your hands, a true boomerang or a "failure to launch". There's a difference. "A boomerang kid may be starting an entry level job and want to save money to pay off student loans. A failure to launch is a 22 year-old who's hanging out in the basement playing video games all day and drinking beer," explains Mindy Utay, a psychotherapist specializing in family therapy. [More from Forbes: 10 most important lessons fro 20-something workers]
Set a limit and say it loud. Be specific. Six months, one year, whatever is the case.
Don't presume that your young adult will automatically know how to act like a mature, responsible adult. Set the guidelines up front, not in a punitive way, but rather in a positive, mutually beneficial manner. Sit down and decide how this arrangement can work so everyone feels comfortable. Will there be a curfew or expectations around when you should be notified if your child will not be coming home at the expected time? Will your child pay rent or be responsible for covering any of the household costs? If it pains you to charge them rent, consider requiring them to save for a "move out" fund for a rental deposit or other moving expenses when it's time to leave, says Brennan Miller, a financial consultant with Charles Schwab. What about overnight guests? Who cooks, who cleans, and more. Simply put, there are a ton of questions you need to ask, sooner rather than later, says Jane Bailey, dean of the school of education at Post University.
Remember though, the man with size 12 feet sitting in your living room may be someone you gave birth to, but he's not a baby, says Utay, neither is that gorgeous young woman who was that tiny, sweet, little thing. [More from Forbes: How to find and use a mentor]
Develop a game plan
They may be inclined to wander aimlessly, trying this and that, and coming up short in their job search and otherwise getting on track. Play coach. Talk things through so that you can come up with specific action steps — a plan, advises Judy Ward, a senior financial planner with T. Rowe Price Associates. Work with them to create a budget and a savings goal and track progress together. Agree on what financial help you may give them (without putting your own savings into jeopardy) and for how long. Set expectations for job searching and do keep it real with them about what type of jobs they may need to consider. They may be thinking vice presidency when reality may say the supermarket or a mundane office job.
Chat, chat, chat
Don't make a plan and assume it's working. Schedule regular sit downs with your child. Even if your expectations seem to be met, you want to know how your child is feeling about their current situation, says Suzanna de Baca, vice president of wealth strategies at Ameriprise Financial. If they haven't found a job, what roadblocks have they encountered? See where you can help. For example, encourage them them to network and volunteer. "Even if they can't step into a full time career job, volunteering has become a popular outlet for grads who find themselves in between school and career. It connects them with networks and opportunities for mentorships, internships, to get a foot in the door of organizations," says Tim Elmore, founder and president of Growing Leaders, a non-profit focused on youth. It's important to be a good listener, and not judgmental. [More from Forbes: The happiest companies for young professionals]
Don't sell your soul
For goodness sakes, yes, they are your precious treasures, but your financial future comes first. Do only as much as you can afford to. "Paying off their debt will not help foster a sense of financial responsibility. Do what you can and stop there," says Miller. Too many parents are sacrificing their retirement and financial well being in the name of saving their kids. It's okay to ask them to rise to their potential. Says Elmore, "A hundred years ago 17 year-olds were leading armies, working the farm and contributing to their families' income and everyone knew it was in them to do it. Today, we under-challenge kids. We don't expect much and they live down to our expectations." If you do the right thing now, you increase the odds that your kids launch and soon, hopefully very soon, you can cry tears of joy about having an empty nest. [More from Forbes: The 15 best jobs for young people]