Millions of parents of the generation known as Millennials (born between 1980s and 2000) have heard that from their grown children who have graduated from college and (for financial reasons) have returned home to live with them for awhile. Many Millennials cannot find any work that will provide them with a salary that will support their living independently. A large number of those who can barely get adequate compensation have not been able to gain employment in the job field in which they were trained in college. Thus, they need flexibility that living at home offers to them when they have to quickly relocate to accept a career job when one is available. As in every generation, a number of young people who left for college with high hopes have been compelled to return home due to illness, injury, unplanned pregnancy, and (increasingly for Millennials) staggering education and credit card debt.
Do You Love Your Children?
If you loved them before you sent them off to college, chances are that you still love them when they come back to you, broken and disillusioned. They are adults, not children, but will you abandon them because you legally can do that? A situation like this forces a parent to critically look at him or herself. Your Millennial adult child is the next generation of your family. If you wash your hands of any further responsibility to help him/her, then you have significantly contributed to the risk of all future generations of your family. They may not survive. If you do welcome them back home, you soon realize that they bring home the independent ways of having been on their own for four years. They are not and never again will be children. They are young adults who have been shocked by the uncertainty of life, and they are humiliated. Branded as a failure, they come home to lick their wounds. They will hang on every word from you, be that encouragement or criticism. If you want to put light back into their dim eyes, tell them, “Welcome home, we will work this out!”
Hear their side of what has happened to them. You may find that they see moving back home as temporary, that they intend to keep trying to get on their feet. That is great! Getting back on your feet after you are knocked down is a principal life lesson. Find out how they intend to go about getting a renewed chance to claim their American dream. Encourage them. Don’t be too quick to turn an early talk into a lecture by you. When they come back broken, they will bare their soul. Comfort and console. Don’t criticize. When they come back this way, they are near the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for shelter and food. Give them that and offer them love and belonging, which is the next level up. Somewhere between a week and a few months of time may be needed to establish some logistics of getting them home and settled. Pick the time, but it is important for you to understand their situation and determine key areas of focus from your point of view. In other words, you need to tell them your concerns. They must listen to you.
They Owe you Respect and Loyalty
You must not tell your returned adult/child that you will pay all of his/her debts and make the world all nice and safe again. That is what you do for a child. You were already thinking about it when you first heard them ask if they could come home for awhile. Now, you must tell them the truth about your concerns on the financial and family impacts. Rather than dictate harsh rules to them, try to work out the normal behaviors in the home and the cost-sharing responsibilities. Strive to gain an understanding and an agreement between adults. Most important, keep a friendly door open to talk about it for you and for them. Over time, details change for better or worse. Take care not to let that talk turn into preaching or criticism or they will loathe it and you. You don’t want that. Opportunity always goes hand-in-hand with adversity. Someone who must come back home for awhile after college will be more receptive to learning about the importance of living slightly below their means and the prudence of identifying risk and solutions to block or lessen risk. Did you know that $5500 per year (less than $459 per month) can give your Millennial the hope that they will get through what has happened to them and be able to retire one day, able to be the rock for their future generations the way you are for them now? The Greatest Generation used their ever-increasing home value to help them to augment social security in order to be able to retire. Generations after them, advanced in their companies and contributed to 401K plans, which were the cornerstone of their retirement. Today, with housing unable to advance, no massive growth in jobs, our country more than $17 Trillion in debt, and social security on shaky ground, how are the Millennials going to make it with a rocky job start all the way to retirement? The answer is the Roth IRA. If you can be sure that your Millennial is not foolish enough to raid their Roth IRA, consider working with a reputable no load Mutual Fund Company and help them to open an investment account. Contribute $459/month to meet their annual $5500 Roth IRA retirement savings. Tell them that this is their inheritance and that you will fund it until they can partially contribute and eventually fund it on their own. It is reasonable to expect continuous annual contribution in a diverse set of mutual funds over 40 plus years to return more than $1 Million by the time your Millennial reaches a retirement age of 60. Note: Your Millennial must earn an income of at least $5500 each year in order be able to qualify to contribute fully to their IRA.
Time With Family
Ever since humans formed clans and families, they have experienced the warmth of companionship, the pride of offering protection, solace, and love to other human beings. Empires have been built by humans for those they love. Use this opportunity to rekindle the ties that bind with those who have mattered so much to you. In many cases, this thing that has happened to them is the result of a fundamental change in how the American economy works. Before that change is done or even understood, it may be you that will be economically crushed. You may need their help after they get on their feet and find their path away from home to live independently. One more comment: America waited far too late to appreciate the the World War II generation. Many of them passed on before ever hearing themselves called the Greatest Generation. Don’t be so quick to judge the Millennials harshly. Their generation has borne the brunt of the casualties and is responsible for the victories of the post-911 wars on Terrorism. Especially, if your Millennial is a veteran, be grateful to have him/her home for awhile. Enjoy the company of your Millennial now. An unexpected circumstance brought them close to you again. Sooner than you know, your Millennial adult/child will gratefully embrace you, thank you, and tell you they are leaving home again. Thanks to you, he/she will be stronger, wiser, and filled with renewed hope to have the American Dream.